Help!! I'm new here, my adhd/autistic son refuses to use the toilet at night!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by mummabear34, Jan 6, 2017.

  1. mommabear34

    mommabear34 New Member

    Hello all, my son was diagnosed at age 3 with autism and last year with adhd. He has always been difficult to toilet but has been using the toilet during the day with no accidents for over a year now. At night he still continues to refuse to pee in the toilet. He does have control of his bladder. I know this because I check him through out the night and four times so far this week he has been dry when I wake him up to pee but refuses to use the toilet. I ask him if he needs to and he says no. I take him to the bathroom anyway and instead of peeing in the toilet he will pee in his pants in front of the toilet. Twice, with an hour of prompting from both his dad and I he did use the toilet at night, but then peed in his pants in front of the toilet in the morning. During the day he is uncomfortable using the toilet in other places so if it is possible he will hold both pee and bm's as long as possible until he is at home where he is comfortable. I am so frustrated at this point I just do not know what to do. I've tried taking toys away, giving him lots of praise and rewarding him for good behaviour... so far nothing seems to be working. He is an extremely willful child, very intelligent and thankfully now verbal and says it is not important for him and wants me to give him his diapers back. Does anyone have any ideas on what may help with this situation?
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2017
  2. kim75062

    kim75062 Active Member


    how old is your son?

    mine is 6 (could be autistic but is diagnosis ADHD, anxiety and sensory processing disorder (SPD) so far) and still wears good nights to bed. Some times he wakes up dry for an entire week, some weeks hes wet every night. There's really no rhyme or reason as to why with him, medications may be part of the problem.

    He HATES waking up wet if hes not wearing a goodnight. It will set him off for a horrible day for him and anyone around him.

    My middle child was a chronic bed wetter until the age of 10. She insisted that she couldn't feel when she had to go at night, and even with waking her up at night and her going to the bathroom she still wet the bed at least 5 nights a week. She was diagnosis ADHD as well. She refused to wear a "baby diaper". She had a plastic mattress cover and She was responsible for changing her sheets and washing them everyday. We never made a big deal out of it and pretty much accepted it as part of everyday life. After I took her to the urologist at 10 to make sure there was nothing wrong physically with her, the bed wetting magically stopped.

    I think she just needed to hear from someone else that there was no reason for it? I really have no idea but I am glad that's all it took!

    With your son you may want to take him to a urologist just to be sure, boys are way more prone to physical issues then girls that can cause this. Also some medications can to, so I would look them up and discuss with his doctor if hes on any.

    I know it may not seem like it now but eventually it will resolve itself most of the times. As for my son, we have way bigger issues to worry about then night time bed wetting :)
  3. kim75062

    kim75062 Active Member

    Also just because your son is walking with open eyes does not mean his entire brain is awake yet :) Mine does not function well until maybe 10-15 mins after hes been "awake" and we have had many potty accidents at night and first thing in the morning right in front of the toilet. including him sitting on the toilet with his pants still on, or with the lid still down.....
  4. runawaybunny

    runawaybunny Administrator Staff Member

  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Does your son MIND wearing diapers at night? Either the pullups/big kid kind or the old fashioned kind with the tabs on the side? Is it just that you don't want to change them? In some ways I was the odd parent because I always thought it was a LOT easier to deal with diapers than to watch my child like a hawk to see if they were dancing or standing in some odd way to tell if they had to use the toilet. It was also easier to change a diaper than to change and wash wet clothing and esp wet sheets. So my kids had to earn the right to wear cloth underwear and they each did it on very different schedules. Each was dry at night at different times also. I did not EVER get a child up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. If they were not ready to be dry at night, then they just were not ready.

    It was more about being physically ready and realizing that not every body is ready to be dry at night at the same age than it is for any other reason, at least for me. Also it was about having more to do than to pay that much attention to someone else's bowel and bladder habits.

    I will say that part of my opinions were formed because we had a friend who insisted that each of her children were 'potty trained' by 18 to 20 months, but all this meant was that she watched her kids every single second and if they moved this way or that way then she rushed them to a bathroom or one of the many, many potty chairs (literally in every room in her home - yuck!), and fought with them until they sat there until they did something. She had compliant children and she ended up fighting with the youngest one until he finally figured out what she wanted when he was six.

    So she spent four years fighting over his toilet habits. He is autistic and truly didn't have a clue what she wanted for over half that time, and few people would babysit him more than 1 or 2 times. Her mother was her daycare provider and what my friend didn't know was that at her mom's house was that the boy wore diapers. Grandma knew he was not ready and she didn't want her house ruined by accidents. She didn't want to punish him over it because it does no good.

    Please don't punish him for accidents. Making him clean up after himself isn't a punishment, but other than that, all you are doing is creating conflict and anger over something that he cannot really help. At least not at night. The odds that he is awake and doing this to be defiant are very slim. Chances are that he isn't fully awake, and likely has no real idea what is expected, regardless of what he is saying.

    I am a FIRM believer that many potty training issues will work themselves out with maturity and a hands-off policy by mom and dad. Just let him use diapers/pullup type things at night. You will all get more/better sleep.

    You might want to be aware that it is common for kids on medications for adhd to sleep FAR more deeply than kids who are not on adhd medications. If they are fully potty trained for years before they start medications, it is still common for them to have accidents on a regular basis once they start adhd medications, esp stimulants. Their brains just crash so hard that waking them even enough to use the toilet is very difficult. For children who are not yet trained, it is going to take longer to become toilet trained at night. The child cannot help it and is not doing it on purpose.

    Have you spoken to your son's Occupational Therapist (OT) about any sensory issues with using the toilet? Have you asked your son why he is uncomfortable using the toilet? Is he using the regular toilet or a potty chair? Does he have a smaller seat more his size to sit on, or does he sit on the regular adult size toilet seat? Or does he stand and pee like Daddy does?

    Is he willing to tell you, his dad or a male person why he doesn't want to pee in the potty? I ask for a reason? I remember being flat out TERRIFIED of the adult potty as a kid. My older brother told me that if I fell it, I would be trapped and it would eat me. That seems silly to me NOW, but as a small child, it was truly scary. I would not tell anyone that for ANYTHING. I can remember being unwilling to tell anyone because either it would be true and we had a monster in our house or it wouldn't and my brother was just that mean and we had a different monster in our house. But finding out what the problem is means finding a solution. I just couldn't see a way out of using the toilet.

    As for asking about the seats, an adult seat can seem VERY unstable to sit on to a child. You literally feel like you will fall in. I remember that feeling well. I used to have to brace my hands behind me to stay sitting on the toilet without falling in. I also needed a stool because otherwise my feet were so far off the floor. Sometimes you can figure out the reason behind the problem and fix it without a lot of problems. I will say that finding that reason can be challenging with kids with autism, but there is a reason why behind every problem when a child has autism, at least there is a why at least 99.9% of the time.

    It may be that your son won't talk about this with you or Dad. When it came to this topic, one of my kids would NOT talk to me or my hubby (his father) no matter what. He would talk to my mother or father though. Sometimes it had to be long distance, but we used that. My parents were great sports about it, and it was appreciated, esp when he would get that look that told us clearly that he thought we were idiots who didn't know what we were talking about. Finding the person that your son will speak to about it will help. Then you have to listen to him. Until then, I would go to rewards for being dry (use whatever he loves most that you restrict the most - candy, video games, whatever) and diapers. Take the pressure off and stop punishing him - they call them accidents for a reason, they don't call them defiants, do they?
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  6. HMBgal

    HMBgal Active Member

    Difficult grandson was still not dry at 10. We didn't make a big deal of out if it and figured he would be dry when he was ready. Night wetting seems to run in families and two of my kids were late to stay dry at night. As long as grandson was sleeping well at night, I would let him sleep. But he wanted to go to overnight science camp and wanted to be dry so we asked him to problem solve with us. I found a wireless alarm that he wanted to try and BAM! Dry within three nights. Sadly, his school didn't let him go to science camp, but that's another story.
    Edited to add: I think what made it work for us was his willingness to be part of the process.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2017
  7. PiscesMom

    PiscesMom Active Member

    My typical child had trouble with this through third grade. Daytime issues, I can't remember night? I didn't make it easier for her - I got angry. Guess what - it didn't help any. Probably made her feel worse. I agree not to make a big deal about it. Get diapers and waterproof mattress covers. Let it go.
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My son wet the bed until twelve. We never brought it up...Just washed the linens. Knew it wasn't his fault. At 12 it resolved on its own. Getting angry/ more stress in my opinion just makes the kid stress which usually makes a problem worse.

    Put on pull ups and a plastic sheet over the mattress. No kid would pee in bed just to make you mad. Not something to get angry about.
  9. mommabear34

    mommabear34 New Member

    Thank you all so much for all of your responses... it's all very helpful... my son is five years old. He is verbal and has been diagnosed with autism and ADHD. He does have full control of his bladder. He wakes up every time he feels the need to use the bathroom. He just doesn't want to get up out of bed to go to the toilet. He is angry that I took his pull ups away. I took them away once I realized last week for sure that he had full control of his bladder. And he does. Toiletting has been an issue from the get go... he just would rather use a pull up than stop what he is doing to use the bathroom. He told me that he doesn't care about it. I don't make him clean up any messes but since I've realized for sure that he's doing this on purpose I've told him that he will not be able to use his "big boy" stuff anymore until he starts peeing in the toilet at night like a big boy. Big boy stuff meaning remote control cars, stereo, cds, Netflix, computer ect unless it's something we require him to watch. He says that he doesn't care about it and it's not important to him. Last night after he woke up (because he needed to pee) after an half an hour of a temper tantrum and me sitting him on the toilet and pouring luke warm water over his privates he finally went. Trust me, he has control, he just doesn't want to get out of bed at night to use the toilet. He flat out told me so even. He's extremely willful and extremely intelligent. So right now I'm just trying to make it as uncomfortable as possible when he pees in his pants to try and encourage him to go in the toilet. And he does have a small seat, we've tried the little seats, potties, everything.Diapers seem to reinforce this behaviour so I've taken them away and use the rubber underwear with the padding inside.. goodnights. I don't get angry with him. I'm just trying to get him out of this habit.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I personally would not try to shame him into this. Although he may have control, he is autistic. They don't think like we do. I would let it go. He isn't going to be peeing in his pants at 20.

    I don't think punishing him so severely is useful or will help. It is just setting you and him up for a control game, one that you won't win and that can damage him.psychologically. He isn't hurting anyone...maybe its just me. But I don't think it's worth this fight. If you leave it alone it will resolve. If you make an issue of it it may last longer. Jmo
  11. mommabear34

    mommabear34 New Member

    Wow... you think taking Netflix and remote control cars away is severe punishment for a 5 year old? I'd love to live in your house! I think I'm just going to go back to getting advice from the autism clinic... mostly here all I've gotten is bashed on my parenting skills? Like do I not want to change my son? Or I am shaming him because I want him to use the toilet instead of peeing in a diaper? Absolutely ridiculous... but to those of you who did offer some real assistance thank you so much. It's very much appreciated. The only reason I opened this account was to get some ideas on how to make my son WANT to use the toilet... because if he is in a diaper he will use it day or night. He told us that he doesn't care about it because it's not important to him. As it's my job to teach him how to behave and what is appropriate in today's society... we're trying to use a trip to the dinosaur museum as a reward... but I'm going to continue with what the clinic is advising me to do
  12. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome, MamaBear!

    Just wanted to let you know that we do know what you are going through.

    Many boys (and some girls) aren't totally dry before age 10. It's not as uncommon as some may believe. My son, who is not autistic, was not totally dry at night till age 6 or 7. He also went through a stage where he would pee his pants as soon as he got home from school to express his anger and frustration at the school situation he was in at the time.

    I think most of us who have adult kids just look back on that time and realize that it wasn't as big a deal as we thought it was at the time.

    All our boys seemed to outgrown it, whether autistic or not.

    I think that's where we are coming from.

    I hope you will stay with us.

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  13. mommabear34

    mommabear34 New Member

    Ok I see what you are saying... in our home this is just one of many battles... I'm just trying to teach him what is expected of him as he gets older and feel that if there are no consequences he will continue to "be the boss" in this situation and others... he is an extremely intelligent little guy and very stubborn (probably from me lol) so I just think it's important to follow through with what I tell him the consequences will be. It's frustrating for sure, but I was just really looking for other ideas to help... not to be asked outrageous questions. But thank you so much for your kind words and taking the time to respond to me , I appreciate it very much.
  14. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I think this is a situation where peer pressure is going to do more than mom pressure ever will. As a mom, you really cannot fight every battle or all you do is fight with your kid. I know - I fought WAY too many small battles with my son and it ruined a lot of things that didn't have to be ruined for us. I do feel that you have to follow your instincts, and that what feels right to you is likely what is right for your family, regardless of whether it is right for anyone on this forum or at the autism clinic or the doctor's office.

    But in the case of using the bathroom, that really isn't something that someone can dictate - it really is a very personal thing. I know that friends had a child who finally had to stop sending their daughter to daycare in dresses that the grandma sent because the ONLY time the girl had accidents was when she had to wear those dresses. Other dresses? She was fine, but those dresses were hideously ugly to the girl. Mom and Dad refused to listen to the girl, so the girl controlled them the only way she could, she peed on them. Your son is telling you loudly that he wants to be in diapers at night. Even if you take Netflix and big boy toys away, he wants his diapers. It may be a comfort thing. Or it may be a sensory thing. But he wants them and is determined to have them You seem determined enough to give up your sleep and his to force him to use the toilet. I think you are in for a very long battle, where if you give him a bit more time, maybe a few more months, this will move on to another issue.

    I am NOT saying to give in and give him the Netflix and toys. Go ahead and save those for Mom and Dad time, for time when he is not around. Don't let him have them. Box them up and put them in a closet. But stop giving up sleep for pouring water over him at night and making you both lose sleep. How bad is the next day for both of you? How much more dug in are you both the next day? How much more likely are each of you to give in the next day? I bet he is NOT more likely to use the potty the next day, but you are more worn out and more likely to lose your temper. Mostly because for him it is likely sensory and for you it is confusion and anger based. So you are not coming at the issue from the same place and when tired, you are not going to go to the same place.

    A few months of little kid videos or no tv at all won't hurt him AT ALL. A few months or a year of peer pressure about not doing things with other kids because he is in diapers after school, well, that that does change things. I am NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT saying that you should EVER tell him that he cannot do something because he is in diapers, or that you should tell his classmates that he is in diapers at night. THat sets him up for bullying that is unfair and wrong. But it is a fact that you don't go on big kid events like sleepovers and school trips and things if you don't use the toilet. It just is. So if you want to do those things, which eventually everyone does, then you learn to use the toilet.

    I am NOT trying to bash you here. I am hoping to take a little pressure off of you. Life is hard enough and there are enough pressures with a child with autism. You have enough to worry about without having to carve out 30 more minutes each night to pour water on him to get him to urinate. You need sleep in order to be able to cope with the next day's challenges. That is all that I am saying!
  15. mommabear34

    mommabear34 New Member

    Thank you! You actually do get what I am saying here. We recently had a friend sleep over for the weekend and it was really embarrassing for him when he realized that he was the only one who still peed in a diaper. I don't want him to go through that feeling of embarrassment again. The diapers were just taken away about 2 weeks ago now and we switched to the goodnights. The incident with pouring water only happened once... I'm overjoyed to say that last night when he woke up to pee and we went to the toilet he went with absolutely NO fussing whatsoever so of course I lavished him with praise. But by morning he didn't wait until we reached the toilet... but he IS making progress and that is all I am asking of him. I'm asking him to try. I personally do not believe that taking Netflix and the computer away from a 5 year old is severe punishment. And he knows that once he's always peeing in the toilet we are taking a weekend trip to Drumheller... in a hotel where he cannot pee in the bed. And it wasn't until I said no more of his shows that he started trying... and even afterwards with everything we've been having pretty good days. So I do know that I am on the right track with him. My biggest fear for him is that he will be bullied. Not necessarily because of toiletting issues but just because he can be extremely bossy and is very particular. It is my job to teach him how he is expected to act in today's society and I take it very seriously. So I'm going to do all that I can to give him the tools he needs to be a healthy, happy, productive member of society. Even if it means I lose a little sleep for a few weeks. And in my eyes it starts with learning that even though it's harder to get up and walk to the bathroom to pee... it's worth it in the end
  16. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Susie, very good and sensible post. He will use the bathroom at night when he is ready like all our boys who set their beds. If it's at night only it doesn't affect school attendance. It will turn out fine. in my opinion it's not worth a battle that will only be won when he decides he wAnts to go. Or when he is mature enough to go. There are bigger fish to fry with autism.

    I don't think any child should be punished for this issue. It is a hard one for some, especially spectrum kids. I think professionals who are very familiar with aitism handle behavior better than Mom. We are involved, after all, and we are not trained in autism. Nuff said here. Not trying to be mean, but been there and had great success.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
  17. mommabear34

    mommabear34 New Member

    As I have previously posted I am following the advice given by the autism clinic in my city. And so far my son is showing progress. So I am satisfied with that. He wore pull ups at night for the last 2 years until two weeks ago when I realized without a doubt that he was peeing on purpose. And it's technically not even in bed. It's just in his pull-up on the way to the toilet. The way the nurse explained it to me was that he's gotten into the habit of this behaviour now, so the longer I let it go, the harder it will be to get out of. As he is showing a lot of progress in such a short time and he is still his happy self during the day I will be continuing on with what I am doing ... I see your child is also on the spectrum... but I'm sure you are very aware that every child is extremely different... regardless if they are diagnosed autistic or not. So what I'm doing with my son may not have worked with your child and vice versa. I wish you the best with your journey
  18. mommabear34

    mommabear34 New Member

    Also... I have "let it go" for the last two years and now am trying again to get him toilet trained at night. And today was another great day... even without his precious tv shows all afternoon. He has been extremely well behaved all day. I think part of the problem is that we let things go too much... and now he thinks he's the boss. Since I've started this new routine with him the first few days were pretty rocky but I can honestly say that even without his tv today was one of the best days he's had in a very long time ❤... I also wanted to mention that this is not the first time I've had to potty train a child... but it is the first time that I've had a child pee himself on purpose.. that is definitely new to me.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
  19. mommabear34

    mommabear34 New Member

    I appreciate your response and it sounds like you've had some experience in this area but my son is doing this on purpose. He has been potty trained during the day for over two years. I definitely would not be taking anything away from him if I had any doubt that it was accidental. Which is why he has been in pull ups at night for the last two years. I've only recently started the training at night again. And yes I did say that he was diagnosed with autism and ADHD but I didn't say that he was on any medication. I am following the advice of the autism clinic in my city and was just trying to get additional tips to help... I just want him to be the best he can be and feel good about himself... a few weeks ago we had a sleepover with a friend and he was pretty embarrassed... I don't want him to have to go through that again if possible. I love him more than anything else in the world and I don't care if I have to lose a bit of sleep or do laundry every day for a month... I don't care. Not if it means that my son will end up feeling better about himself. He's an amazing little guy and I don't want him to feel different than anyone else... I know that it's probably bound to happen... we all feel that way at some point in time ... but I'm going to do all that I can to make his life the best I can.
  20. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I have to say that I really admire your goal of making him a "healthy happy productive member of society". In my area the parents have always been so determined to make their kids "happy", meaning that the kids get what they want, period. It drives me nuts to hear parents whine that kids are not 'happy' at school because they have to do work, and can't they just not do this or that. Especially when this or that are things like addition or history! As far as being productive members of society? Not really a consideration to MANY parents. It is all about HAPPY. Especially when the child is little. Then when the child is a teen, the program changes to get a job, contribute, get good grades and the teen rebels because that does NOT make them HAPPY. Not one little bit. I think this causes a LOT of problems, and leaves a lot of kids without important life skills. It drives me crazy, too. It is really nice to see another mom who openly states this goal when her child is young.

    I think what you are doing is a bit different than what many of us thought was going on. I originally thought you had a child who was just toilet trained and was having trouble staying dry at night. . As the rest of the story came out, it seems he has a habit that he needs to break to be well adjusted and to be able to do the things he wants without embarrassment. That is a TOTALLY different thing. At least it is to me. I think your reward of a trip is a great thing. I certainly can see giving up sleep for a couple of weeks or a month to break a bad habit that is keeping your son from developing the way he needs to develop. These are the things parents do for their kids when it is needed. I don't think it will take a month because he will see that it is likely that you won't give in, and that he gets more for making progress than he does for staying in the same old ways.