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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Positively Addressing Bedwetting and Autism- 5 tips you can try today


Knowing how to effectively communicate with an autistic visual thinker is not the only challenge parents of autistic children face. 

Enuresis, commonly known as bedwetting, is another issue that may occur and needs to be dealt with in a patient and positive manner.

Why do some autistic kids have trouble when it comes to toilet training?  There are different reasons, some of which include:

• Imitation difficulties

• Hypnotic condition – A lack of muscle control and failing to react or recognize the urge to urinate.

• Not being aware of feeling wet can also complicate and delay toilet training.

• Damaged cerebellum and basal ganglia – These are areas of the brain that are not formed correctly in autistic children, and are responsible for functions related to learning, motivation, cognition and movement control.

There are different methods to help your child overcome enuresis. 

However, the treatment that will work best depends on the child's individual needs.  In addition, you need to make sure your child can efficiently use the toilet during the day before working on controlling bedwetting.

The following are 5 tips you can try to help eliminate bedwetting: 

1. Diet adjustment – Diet intervention may help autistic children with bedwetting because many autistics are prone to allergies and have sensitivities to certain foods, because they have a damaged immune system.  

Common food allergies that can lead to bedwetting include grain (IE wheat, oats, and barley), dairy products, strawberries and citrus fruits.  Aside from bedwetting, other symptoms caused by these foods may be stomach aches, nausea, whining, crying, hyperactivity, aggression, insomnia, and in rare cases, a seizure.

In order to find out if your child has an allergy, you will need to remove the food from their regular diet for about two weeks and then give it to them on an empty stomach.  If allergic, they will have a reaction 15 minutes to an hour from the time they ingested the food.  If a reaction occurs, then you know what food to eliminate. 

Note: consult your doctor before trying this treatment method.

2. Reduce fluids - Limit the amount of fluids you give your child before bed.  Get your child used to having a drink an hour before bedtime, instead of right before it's time to sleep.  This will help reduce the chance of bedwetting.

3. Night-lifting – This technique involves waking you child occasionally throughout the night and walking them to the bathroom to use the toilet, and returning them to their bed.  Teaching your child to wake up and empty their bladder at various times during the night can help send the right message and improve toilet training.

4. Dry protection – Absorbent underpants, a protector sheet and placing a protector pad between the sheets and mattress are all great ways to help a child feel dry at night while they are still learning how to develop control.  Disposable, absorbent underpants help your child and you cope with bedwetting, by preventing pyjamas and sheets from having to be washed when there is an accident.  Furthermore, when using such protection, talk to your child about what the urge to urinate feels like.

5. Moisture Alarm – This is a special alarm that clips on to the outside of bed sheets and activates as soon as the child begins to wet the bed.  The idea is the alarm will wake the child who will then finish their business in the washroom before returning to sleep.  Note: talk to your doctor about moisture alarms.

It takes time to stop your autistic child from bedwetting, but you need to stay persistent, patient and understanding even well after it appears the child has ceased enuresis as it is not uncommon for relapses to occur.