Managing Bedwetting in Autism


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Many parents of special children struggle with helping their child when it comes to bedwetting. It’s a pretty common issue for many children with Autism that sometimes recurs even after it seems to have gone away. But not to fear!

Don’t fret about those soggy bedsheets. Hang tight as we share some tips from parents of children with Autism. Know that if your child on the Spectrum is struggling with bedwetting, you are not alone. Let me say that again. It’s important. You are not alone.

Many children, especially children on the Spectrum struggle with understanding their own bodies, including their body’s signals which tell them when their bladder is full. And that’s in the daytime! Nighttime toilet training is a whole other challenge – we’ve released a potty training 10 step guide on this.

One parent, Amelia S., shared her experience. Her child was toilet trained and nighttime toilet trained at 5 years old. However, her child is now 7 years old and has started bedwetting again. She shares a few tips here on what to do if your ASD child is bedwetting.

1. Rule out any physical ailments such as urinary tract infections or even a bladder defect that can cause bedwetting. Be sure to see a qualified medical professional, including a urologist if necessary.

2. Rule out any emotional issues that may need to be addressed in therapy that might cause nighttime issues such as night terrors or anxiety.

3. Address toilet training with your child’s ABA, physical, or occupational therapist. They can help you with teaching your child about how to respond to their body signals.

4. Make sure that your child does not have liquids too close to bedtime.

5. When your child does wet the bed, have them help you clean up as much as they are able. Even if it’s just putting the dirty linens in the hamper.

6. Most importantly, remain calm but firm. Don’t over-react to your child’s accidents.

Your child doesn’t want to wake up wet either, so don’t be upset with your child. Instead, help them to understand how to go to the potty at night and get a lot of help from people who are there to help you and your child. It may be frustrating, but a lot of people experience this challenge. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Bedwetting Again? Handle Regression

Bedwetting can be frustrating and upsetting to parents of ASD children, especially if it is occurring after you thought the issue was resolved. This is called “regression” and is common in children with Autism. Often regression will happen when big changes or emotional challenges come up.

Think about everything your child has been experiencing lately. What’s something big for your child that has happened? That may be causing them to regress. Be patient with your child as they work through their big feelings. Even if the situation may not feel very big to you, it may be overwhelming to your child.

Amelia S., the mother of a 7-year-old child with ASD, shared that her child regressed recently. He is non-verbal, but he has experienced a lot of change in the last year, including increased time in therapy and going on a big vacation with this grandparents.

These activities may not seem that big to you and me, but to a child with ASD, these kinds of big events can cause stress and anxiety, even if it’s something fun like a vacation.

Ask for Help

So, if your child is bedwetting and you know there’s no issue with emotions or physical ailments, there’s a lot of ways to help your child! Make sure, first and most important, to get help from your child’s therapy providers.

That’s what they are there for! If necessary, make sure to let your child’s teacher know and put this information in your child’s Individual Education Plan if they are enrolled in school. In order to help your child, be sure to provide you and your child with all the support you need. There are people to help you, so let them know you need help!

Encouraging Your Child

As you and your child learn about nighttime continence, or “holding it” at night, you will experience some accidents. It’s just part of it. Don’t get upset. It will make your child upset and only make the issue worse. Instead, prepare ahead of time for accidents and keep calm and positive.

Express to your child that you love them no matter what and you’re learning how to go on the potty and not the bed at night. Provide lots of positive reinforcement and rewards for waking up “dry” in the morning. Provide special prizes and outings for a few days or a week of being dry.

Keep a chart on the wall for your child to show them the progress they are making as they make this important step.

More Information

Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone messes up. The same goes for you and for your child. Don’t beat yourself up about bedwetting. Just take it as a journey instead of a race. There’s no shame in this learning process. Just keep trying!

Diapers can be necessary while nighttime toilet training, so you may have to buy them. However, if your child is a certain age, the diapers may be provided by your insurance, including pads to put on their beds to catch “spills” too.

Some parents have suggested that using just the waterproof cover can cause “puddles” of pee and make soaking worse. To help with this, pair a nighttime pad with a waterproof mattress. You can even do layers of waterproof mattress cover and pads so you can easily strip beds in the middle of the night if necessary.

Team SafeSleep

Hi! We're a team of scientists, doctors, teachers, and coaches experienced in helping people with special needs. We hope you like our research and share it with others who might find it helpful too :)

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