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Toilet Training Children With Down Syndrome

Most parents wonder how their children with Down syndrome will learn to become toilet trained. This is understandably an anxious time for a parent, as you might be thinking about sending your child to a preschool program and wonder if he will ever be out of diapers. Teaching any child to use the toilet can be a frustrating time for parents, and the child, but if you relax and remember that you cannot “make” him learn before he is ready, he will leave those diapers behind someday. One professional suggests taking a few days to document your child’s voiding schedule. Check his diaper every twenty to thirty minutes to see when he is going, and what (urine, bowel movement). When data is taken for a few days and you can see some semblance of a pattern, you will want to schedule toilet times for those specific times of the day.

One suggestion is to give your child some fluids to drink about 15 to 20 minutes before you plan on toileting him. Tell your child he is going to use the toilet, and if needed, use the sign for it and help him make the sign. Make his toilet training experience pleasant. Have books available for looking at during this time, and keep the toileting time short, about 7 or 8 minutes at the most. If your child does not void during this time, don’t force it or use an unpleasant or frustrated tone.

Have him get off and then try again at the next scheduled time. A lot of praise is necessary when toilet training your child, especially for a child who has Down syndrome. Giving an edible reinforcement might be tried, but this can lead to the child expecting something to eat every time he has success on the toilet. Since children with Down syndrome already may struggle with weight issues, it is recommended that reinforcements such as verbal praise, hugs, high fives be used instead. Some parents may have expectations for their child in the area of toilet training that are too high. Remember that not only is your child delayed mentally, he also may lack the proper muscle control at the average age that an “average” child is toilet trained. He will eventually learn this too; it will be on his own individual timetable. Night training may be even further behind the average child’s schedule. Manufacturers are now making disposable underwear (commonly called “pull-ups”) in sizes large enough to accommodate a child up to 125 pounds. This does not mean that your child will be night trained so much later, but he just might not learn until he is that size, and you need to be aware of that fact.

“Megan was a few months older than four when she was toilet trained during the day, and in retrospect, I wish I had relaxed more with her in the preceding years in trying to get her trained. I felt a lot of pressure from other people, but you can’t “make” her learn something until she is ready to learn it. She wasn’t night trained until she was ten and a half. It just happened when it did, and that’s all there is to it,” says Valerie, mother of a 17 year old daughter with Down syndrome. By Jane Orville ZZZZZZ .


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