Children with Angelman Syndrome routinely have daunting challenges around toilet training, with very good reason. Significant delays in mobility, language, and fine motor control are common. Hardly anyone is thinking about toilet training when a child can’t stand independently and uses PECS for two desired objects. There are a lot of issues between their current challenges and using the toilet independently. Most people only see the issues, and focus on addressing them.
But every child, including kids with Angelman syndrome, has strengths: these kids can often learn daily routines far more easily than some of their equally-challenged peers, and they can be more responsive to positive feedback, particularly social reinforcers, than their equally-challenged peers with ASD.
Using a child’s strengths is important for everyone; parents, teachers, as well as therapists.
Kids with Angelman syndrome need us to use their strengths to help them build essential life skills.
Using the toilet is one of those skills.
In my book, “The Practical Guide to Toilet Training Your Child with Low Muscle Tone: Sensory-Motor Secrets for Success“, I fully explained the concept of Targeted Pre-Training. This can start today, right now, with any child, at any age. It requires the adults doing diapering to alter their reactions and respond fully to the actions and reactions of the child they are diapering. In this way, it shares some concepts with Elimination Communication. But it goes further, because we are talking about special needs children. They often have splinter skills and uneven developmental progressions. Capitalizing on a special needs child’s skills is the key. Consistent interactions and close observation, always thinking of the next phase of pre-training, make every diaper change an active event for these kids and anyone that cares for them.
Why should you read a book about potty training a child with hypotonia? Because so many of the techniques that work for Angelman’s kids are based on understanding how their significantly low muscle tone is affecting their attention and learning, in addition to the obvious issues with moving safely! The entire section on pre-training is essential for kids that we know will need years of work to become potty trained. They need the adults training them to understand how to interact with them to optimize their learning. THAT is targeted pre-training and in particular, Collaborative Diapering. This unique concept is just one of the strategies in the book that will help you. Working on clothing management and using the most effective motivators are only two of the chapters that will move your child forward toward the finish line. I won’t minimize the challenges; not every child with Angelman’s develops full toileting independence. But the training for using a toileting schedule isn’t that different. If anything, you need to be better at observation and better at developing all of the related skills to be successful with a toileting schedule. I get you ready, confident, and excited to find out how much progress your child can make right away!!