Bedwetting, the struggle is real
It's not only some autistics that can struggle to overcome bedwetting, it can happen with all children, some of them right up into their teens. Whilst I describe it as something to overcome, for the parents & carers, it's more like something to survive without completely losing your mind!
Not exactly cv worthy but, I do consider myself to have extensive & unwanted experience in this regard having three children, all of whom have struggled or still struggle. Having learned what I know & now pass on to you, I do so through doing all the wrong things, ah-hem. P.S. I do absolutely believe if a parent or both were not so great themselves as children, then it's bound to happen in your own children.
My first child was literally bludgeoned into stopping bed wetting, I hope he doesn't remember? He was age 7 when it finally stopped & it was simply not acceptable, my 'I will be a perfect parent & he will be a perfect child' (no matter how hard I have to work at it) approach not helping the situation one bit. I remember getting so angry with him, poor boy, starving him of all liquids from 3 pm, shouting, making him change his own bedsheets & wash his own wet pj's even! Hah, if only I knew what was destined to be coming my way in the form of non-verbal autism...
The second child is where I seriously had to learn some lessons in acceptance & just how confidence-sapping bedwetting can be for a child. My daughter has only recently stopped wetting the bed at age 14! And the third child, non-verbal autistic, well, what can I say, we're in it for the long game, it's a test in patience & thanks to everything I already know, he's the only one receiving the soft touch.
Here we go on the advice:
1. Waking up to the realisation that you have wet your bed in the night has an enormous impact on self-confidence & anxiety, even if the child does not express it, it's happening. Be aware. Showing exasperation, frustration, anger is not going to help.
2. In my experience stopping the drinking of liquids in the late afternoon or early evening &/or waking up during the night to make them go to the toilet have never & will never work, trust me, we've tried too many times.
3. I wish I had taken the night nappies off as toddlers sooner & not waited for dry nappies as suggested. Rather let them wet the bed & get them used to being woken up as they are doing it because they can actually feel it. I say this & then add that my daughter, I am convinced, would have slept through it all anyway, she is one seriously deep sleeper.
4. Drinking more during the day, & in bigger quantities in one go etc. can sometimes help, especially if you live in a colder country &/or don't exercise much. I have never noticed any improvement from trying this but hey, that's just one child & me.
5. OMG there is not a bedwetting alarm on the market on the three continents we have lived in that actually works. What a waste of money, lots of it. Some alarms were so loud the entire household woke up thinking it was a fire & yet the child in question slept soundlessly through it all going off at her ear! Some of them had to be wrapped in loo roll & inserted into the panties that you had cut a hole in....arghhh. Oh, and I'm sure one of them was designed to actually give her a shock!
6. The drug GP's can sometimes prescribe is called Desmopressin & whilst it does indeed work (good for sleepovers), the bedwetting starts again as soon as you stop taking it AND both my children, a daughter & autistic son, experienced the most insane spikes in anxiety - never, ever, ever again!
7. The saviour (thank you to the NHS nurse who sent me home with this flyer as a last resort) for me & my daughter has been Neuro-Linguistic Programming/NLP. Sounds hectic but honestly, it's so simple, taught me so much, helped immediately & first improvements were seen in 7 days. The book I used was by Alicia Eaton, it's a very short 1hr read, a 7-day programme where the child will draw pictures & go through various checklists & practice loo runs in the dark etc. Nothing too time-consuming at all & so revealing in terms of their confidence levels. The bedwetting went from max 1 dry night in every 14 at age 12 to 2 or 3 dry nights in every 8 & slowly but surely it improved. "This is a must-have for parents struggling to handle bedwetting. This great book is bursting with practical advice and simple ideas that really work" Sue Atkins - ITV's This Morning Parenting Expert.
8. As for autistics, mine being non-verbal & refusing to wear night nappies since he was 7 (no means no with autistics btw, it's difficult to describe but, if you're an autism parent, you know), sadly NLP is not going to work. We're just going to ride it out & hope for the best really, patience all the way. I do, having experimented with vast quantities of waterproof bed sheets/liners some of which have almost broken my washing machine (this is every single day for 2 years now), others that have been left behind in hotels, & others that have been expensive & just not worked, now have a superb one to recommend. It's from a company called Joizi UK www.joizi.co.uk who call them Peapod Mats, & they're brilliant. They can sit on top of a sheet (or under as my son prefers, ugh) without budging; no side flaps; no plastic; super absorbent; machine wash & dry quickly on their own but will tumble dry also; easy to fold & not too cumbersome for travel. Not the cheapest but well worth it. They also have different sizes for errm, bigger wee's, or bigger beds perhaps I should say.
Any sound advise re bedwetting for nonverbal autistic children would be greatly appreciated in comments.
And to think some mothers have 4 or even 5 children without ever experiencing a wet bed...lucky, lucky, lucky.