Dyspraxia is a condition in which brain messages are not properly transmitted to the body. This can lead to problems with speech, awareness, mobility and coordination. Dyspraxia is a fairly common disorder, and one that can affect a child's ability to potty train. It may mean that the child is unable to understand the concept of using the toilet, or has a delayed desire too, which makes traditional methods of toilet training ineffective. There are ways to encourage potty training in children with dyspraxia, however, and they are often successful.
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Look for signs that your child is ready to toilet train. The signs for dyspraxic children are harder to detect, as it is harder to tell if they have an awareness of their bowel movements. Instead, look for evidence of bladder control. Once your child can control his bladder, he is probably ready to begin potty training.
Read potty training books, such as "Everybody Poops" and talk to your child to increase her awareness of what is going to happen. Give her at least a week to consider the new concept, and if your child is verbal, encourage her to ask questions about the process.
Make some flash cards, featuring an image of your child on the potty. Give this to him while you change his diaper, so that he beings to associate his bowel movements with potty training. Then, begin giving him the card while you sit on the potty. This will provide a strong reference for your child, and help him to link the new routine with his existing one.
Set a new routine. Think about when your child fills his nappy, and how long after eating or drinking this typically occurs. For a few weeks, keep a chart or diary of nappy changes, and use this to make a routine. You may need to change his eating habits and create meal times for a routine to work successfully. Routine is important to dyspraxic children, and so it should be as accurate as possible.
Create a visual schedule of the child's new routine. Include everything from when she wakes up, to when she eats, uses the potty and goes to bed. Dyspraxic children are often reassured by a visual schedule, and will adapt much easier once the toilet is included in their routine. To begin with, you may need to allow time for nappy changes as well as potty time. If your child uses signs to communicate, teach her the signs, and sign them to her when you change her nappy. She will begin to associate them.
Take his nappy off. Once you have been using the potty for a week, whether successful or not, take away his nappy and put him in underwear. Take him to the toilet every half an hour, and increase his liquids. He will pee in the potty, and once he has done it a few times, he will start to recognise what to do. He may have a few accidents in the early days, but usually only a few days of training is needed before the child is confident with the potty.
Create a reward system for your child. While all children are motivated by rewards, and sticker charts are particularly effective, dyspraxic children will be more motivated by the visual record than the reward. Put emphasis on placing the sticker on the chart, or allowing the child to do it, rather than what reward the stickers could lead too.
Tips and warnings
- Consider your child's mental age, rather than his chronological age. If his mental age is under 2 years old, he is probably too young to grasp toilet training, and could find the process stressful.
- While the child is potty training, dress her in clothes that are easy to change and wash.
- Consider using resources such as waterproof mattress covers to make your life easier and keep the child dry.
- Contact the Dyspraxia society or your child's doctor if he doesn't seem to be making any progress by 4 years old.
- Make sure that all the people who look after your child are aware of the routine and enforce it correctly, so that your child has the best chance of learning what to expect.
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