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Down's Syndrome

Potty Training Children With Down's Syndrome

If you have a child with Down's syndrome, you are probably wondering how easy it is to potty train them, compared with a typical child. You'll be glad to know that children with Down's can normally be potty-trained at around the usual age, or a bit later, but they will usually take longer to train, depending on their level of function.

As children with Down's Syndrome respond very well to behavior modification, positive reinforcement and social pressure, praise and reward can do wonders, especially if the whole family is involved.

When to start

It's best to wait until they can physically walk and have reasonable hand coordination, so that they can manage the physical aspects of getting dressed and undressed. If you also wait until the warmer weather, they can run around without a diaper on. This way you won't have to do quite so much laundry at the beginning. If they are dry at night then they usually can learn to be dry during the day.

Once you've decided they are ready

It's usually much easier for a child with Down's Syndrome to cope with a potty chair, rather than a toilet, so choose a good sturdy one so that they can feel safe and stable when they sit on it. In fact you may want to get two, one for the bathroom and one for elsewhere in the house. As with a typical child, introduce the potty gradually, and let them ‘go' when you ‘go' to give them the idea and be guided by your child as to when to begin training in earnest.

Being committed to training

Not only do you and the whole family need to be committed to the training, but also it's very important that you coordinate your potty training with the day-care center your child goes to, as it's too confusing for a child with Down's Syndrome to sometimes be wearing a diaper and sometimes not.

Rewards

As children with Down's Syndrome are very eager to please and respond to rewards, you may find, as one mother of several adopted children with Down's Syndrome did, that giving prizes to the whole family when the child was successful on the potty really encouraged everyone to be involved to help them go to the potty on time.

Coordination problems

As Down's children usually have poor coordination, you may need to help them wipe themselves for a lot longer than other children. To help boys one mother painted a target in the potty in nail polish and after that, a bulls eye!

Asking them

As children with Down's Syndrome can have communication difficulties, you cannot rely on them to say that they want to ‘go potty.' You need to remind them and ask them frequently. Having ‘potty time' after meals is one idea that can help them to ‘be regular' and a hand signal to show they want to ‘go' may be easier for children who have communication difficulties.

Using assisted technology devices that fit inside the underpants and beep when the first sign of wetness comes can also be very helpful in reminding any child that they need to ‘go', especially at night.

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