Special Needs and Incontinence

Special Needs and Incontinence
Written by:
Michelle D. Swaney
May 9, 2024

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Beyond Diapers: Rethinking Potty Training for Special Needs

Challenging the Myth: Every Child Deserves a Potty Training Journey

It is commonly assumed that many children with special needs can’t potty train, and won’t potty train. Or perhaps they will, but it will take much longer and be a slower or more difficult process although that can be true in certain circumstances, it is not true across-the-board

Daytime Incontinence & Special Needs:

The Challenge of Daytime Incontinence: A Common Concern for Special Needs Families

Daytime incontinence can be troublesome for many families whether their child has special needs or not, but it’s a particularly ongoing issue for many families with children who have special needs. There are certain cases of children who have ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and also it’s researched and found that children with down syndrome, more often have daytime incontinence, even after they’ve been potty trained for a certain time. 

The options for daytime and incontinence range from special clothing, daytime diapers or there is a product called Sposies, which is a diaper or underwear booster pad for absorbency. 

Traditionally, we would rather see children be fully potty trained. However, we understand that with special needs, it’s not a one size fits all situation. It’s not as though day one necessarily looks like day 26 or day 375.

Woman holding box of Sposies, text reading, "Special Needs Kids - Beyond Diapers: Potty Training Success for Children with Special Needs" | The Potty School

Individualized Potty Training:

Celebrating Every Potty Training "Inchstone": Focusing on Progress over Perfection

Ups and downs of traditional potty training can just be that much more extreme for families who have children with special needs. Other things can come up like dietary issues, challenges with social interactions, speech and language development, or delays and neurological deficits. These can all affect special needs children's ability to potty train; including, how fast, and how much that information and ability sticks in the future.

As mentioned before there are options to help a child get through a period of incontinence. If they experience incontinence you can use Sposies, absorbent clothing, special underwear or diapers can all help, but you might need to run your option by your school or daycare facility so they understand the purpose. This product can potentially help your child through the day without needing to be changed as many times or extending the amount of time between changes. 

The reason this makes more sense for children with special needs is because they are often older and have larger bladders and regular disposable diapers aren’t meant to hold excessive amounts of urine that aren’t being stopped and ‘held in’, but being fully released all at one time. 

Support & Communication:

Incontinence Aids: Stepping Stones, Not Setbacks for Participation and Confidence

Ultimately, remember this: There is no shame in using incontinence aids. Tools like Sposies, adaptive clothing, and diapers are not setbacks, but stepping stones that allow children to participate fully in daily life. Open communication is key: Schools, daycare centers, and caregivers all play a crucial role in understanding and supporting a child's individual needs for managing incontinence. Focus on progress, not perfection. Celebrate every step forward, whether it's increased awareness, longer intervals between accidents, or simply a willingness to try.

Empowering Every Child:

Creating an Inclusive Environment: Every Child Deserves to Shine, Regardless of Timing

Potty training, for children with special needs and without, is a journey, not a destination. Let's replace unrealistic expectations with acceptance, support, and a healthy dose of patience. By embracing individual differences and celebrating unique progress, we can create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all children to thrive and remember, every child deserves the chance to shine, regardless of their potty training timeline!


Beyond Diapers: Potty Training Success for Children with Special Needs

This blog post challenged the misconception that children with special needs cannot, or will only with great difficulty achieve, potty training.

  • Acknowledge the Challenge: We recognize that daytime incontinence is common for children with special needs, including those with ASD and Down syndrome.
  • Embrace Individuality: Traditional one-size-fits-all potty training methods may not work for every child. We celebrate unique progress and understand that setbacks are part of the journey.
  • Support Every Step: Dietary issues, social interaction challenges, and developmental delays can impact potty training. We offer resources and encouragement for parents navigating these complexities.
  • Alternatives to Traditional Diapers: Explore options like Sposies, absorbent clothing, and special underwear to manage incontinence and maximize child comfort.
  • Celebrate, Not Shame: Using incontinence aids is not a setback, but a stepping stone to full participation in life. Open communication with schools and caregivers is key to providing the necessary support.
  • Focus on Progress, Not Perfection: Every milestone, from increased awareness to longer intervals between accidents, is worthy of celebration. Potty training is a journey, not a race.
  • Create an Inclusive Environment: Let's replace unrealistic expectations with acceptance, patience, and support for all children, regardless of their individual needs and timelines.

P.S We think Sposies are a game-changer for managing daytime incontinence in special needs children.

Woman on computer and woman on phone both on potty training consultation calls

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