Bedwetting is not just an issue among the neurodivergent community. There are many reasons a child wets the bed. There are physical conditions where it is seen in. Two of my children have this issue. It does not need to be a big deal where children need to be embarrassed by it.
The two children in question gave me permission to talk about it. I would never talk about anything like this or about them unless I have their consent. I implore other autistic and parent bloggers to have the same philosophy.
A is a type one diabetic. Due to his insulin sensitivity, we need to send him to bed with a slightly elevated glucose. This is to prevent his glucose from bottoming out in the middle of the night. Due to this, he has urine glucose spillover at night. That’s when he has high glucose, his kidneys filter out some glucose and it ends up in his urine. Due to this, he wets the bed each night. He came to us at 5 years old and it has been his normal. For him its either dangerously low glucose at night time or bed wetting. We will take the bedwetting all day long.
N was born with Vesicoureteral reflux (VUR). VUR is when the flow of urine goes the wrong way. His VUR was a 2/4. Luckily for us, they caught it on ultrasound before he was born. I saw a high risk specialist due to PCOS and had more ultrasounds done than normally are. When N was born, the hospital did an ultrasound of his kidneys right away and he came back for a test to see if the urine really did reflux. It did. We worked with an amazing pediatric urologist. Siblings have a 50% chance of having it too so Roo and Bug had an ultrasound as well. My other children are not biological siblings so it wasn’t necessary for them.
For grades 3 and 4, surgery is often needed. N did not need surgery. Instead he was put on prophylactic antibiotics. This was a 1/4 dose for one year. That is because the backflow of urine can cause a kidney infection and if the infection is bad enough, it can lead to kidney failure. My mother in law had 2 kidney transplants so I know the family history of kidney disease is there.
After one year, the urine flow test is done again to see if the ureters stretched. In N’s case they did and the antibiotics were discontinued. Years later it was discovered this condition left him with an overactive bladder. When he needs to go, he needs to go now. It’s in his IEP and it is an accomodation in school. This is so there are no issues. If anyone has a child with this condition, i implore you to meet with your 504 or IEP team. All you need is a doctor’s note.
How We Handle Bedwetting
In our house it’s no big deal. I see a lot of parents make a big deal out of bedwetting. For those in the US, if a child is over 4 years old, medicaid will cover it. We did that for a while but my children did not like pull ups. With my experience working in a group home for developmentally disabled adults, it gave me an idea. My children like this idea.
On each of their mattresses we have a waterproof mattress cover. The fabirc waterproof ones are better because once they are wet, they hold in the moisture and can go right in the washer. We have that as a backup measure to protect the mattress.
This is the one that we use:
We use washable underpads. These underpads are absorbent. They are really made for adults but they protect the bed. Even on their worst night, it does not soak through.
These are the ones we use:
Instead of stripping the bed daily, we have them change these washable underpads daily. It is hard for them to put sheets on the bed because they sleep on bunk beds. This keeps it simple. We keep a hamper by the washer in the garage. We have a rule, all smelly laundry goes right to the garage so the house does not smell. I do this laundry daily before I go to work. They put their pajamas, blankets and whatever plushie they slept with in the hamper. This way its clean and we do not have to make a big deal out of it.
Bedwetting does not need to be a big deal. My children aren’t embarrassed or scared to tell us. Their mental health is better that way.
This is how it looks. A gave me permission to post this photo. You cannot see his face but you can see what I am talking about. (Don’t mind the wall, we are trying to get the stains off the wall. When we move out, we will have the house professionally cleaned. It is from a bunk bed that way there before we separate the boys into two separate rooms.) He slept without a blanket that night. I covered him up after this photo.
I am not saying how we do it is the only correct way but this way works for us. I see a lot of parents make a big deal out of this and it upsets their kids. There is a calm, drama free way to deal with it.
So after chasing the pediatrician and medicaid for a referral to a neurologist for both boys, we finally got to see the pediatric urologist in our area. If you are on medicaid, you know how much referrals need to be chased after.
Each boy had different issues but we decided to do a joint appointment to make it easier. Since A is diabetic and has a family history of kidney failure, the doctor decided to do an ultrasound on his kidneys. His kidneys looked fabulous.
Something else was discovered. Remember he came to us at 5 years old. There was a double hernia repair that the foster care agency that had custody of him previously NEVER told us about. So obviously I called all over and found out it was done a few months before his diabetes diagnosis. The surgery went well and no complications. A month after discovery, I had his records. The hospital who did the surgery was really nice and made it easy to get his records.
Anyway, the urologist said they have opposite issues and put them on medication to be taken right before they go to bed. They both get unlimited access to the bathroom at school and haven’t wet the bed since on this medication. They are both much happier and have waterproof pads on their beds just in case.