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Wetting the bed

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

Bedwetting, or to give it its full name, nocturnal enuresis, is a common issue for all children, regardless of whether they are neurotypical or neurodivergent. However, there is evidence indicating that the prevalence of bedwetting is higher among autistic children than among their neurotypical counterparts.


There are reasons for this, which obviously won't apply to every autistic child, but are worth considering if your child is struggling with bedwetting. Before attributing their delay in this area to autism, it's important to rule out any underlying medical issues that could contribute to bedwetting, such as urinary tract infections or constipation.


• Developmental Variation: Autistic children often have a wide range of developmental profiles, and this includes variations in when they achieve milestones like nighttime dryness. Whilst some autistic children will develop this skill at the “expected” age, there can be delays int his and in most cases it doesn’t mean that they won’t manage it at a later date. 


• Sensory Processing: Some autistic children have sensory differences that can make the transition to nighttime dryness more challenging. For example, they may not be as aware of bodily sensations signalling the need to use the toilet.


• Communication Challenges: Autistic children (including verbal children) have challenges around their communication which makes it harder for them to express their need to use the toilet or to understand and follow toilet training instructions.


• Anxiety and Stress: Changes in routine, transitions, or new environments can be stressful for autistic children and may contribute to bedwetting.


There are several ways to support your autistic child to be dry throughout the night, but for some it is a matter of waiting for them to be at the right developmental stage or to have stronger communication skills. Others may be supported by a toilet schedule or a reward system. If you are fortunate enough to be under the care of a bowel and bladder nurse, make sure that they are able to tailor any support to your child’s autistic presentation. What is key for all autistic children is a positive, consistent and supportive approach.


For more resources on toilet training, click here https://www.autability.co.uk/shop?Category=Toileting




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