View Full Version : Training a mentally challenged child

03-27-2002, 03:00 PM
any suggestions?? I am at my wits end with this! Anybody have any ideas??


06-10-2002, 02:09 PM
Hi Kelly,
You may have already solved your potty training problem but just in case you haven't I wanted to pass along an idea I got from a friend. There is a book about how to train mentally challenged children. I don't know the name of it but maybe you could find it by doing some searches in a bookstore or library. A friend of mine used it to train her four children who were not mentally challenged but it worked in just one day. It has something to do with buying a doll that pees, giving your child as many cold drinks during the day to encourage urinating and giving them salty things to eat during the day that will make them thirsty enough to want a drink. Two of her four were twins and like I said all were trained in a day. I used the John Rosemond site and solution...naked and $75. It is a great approach but wish I had trained mine before the age of 2. Oh, my friend who used this book, all of her four kids were 20 months old when she trained them. Hope this helps some.

07-09-2002, 10:48 AM
My brother (who is now 23)has ADHD and several other learning disabilities and mental impairments. You would not think that having ADHD would make any difference in potty traing, but just imagine a child who can't focus on anything, isn't aware of his own surroundings (like being in his own little word most of the time day dreaming), and unaware of what he's doing (chewing up pencils and pens while he concentrates on doing homework, then being surprised when they snap and/or ink is leaking everywhere). So, when his body told him he needed to go, he wasn't even aware or paying attention. Most of the time he said (after the fact), that he couldn't feel it until it was too late (very common with challenged kids). As it was, he still had accidents once a day until he was about 6 years old. Very sad once he was in school and kids made fun of him. Back then, there were no books on ADHD, or ideas on how to train challenged kids, and his doctor told my mother to discipline him by spanking or leaving him to sit for an hour in wet clothes!!! That's abuse!!! Can you believe it? My poor mom tried her best, and here are some of the things that seemed to work:
1) Reward system: She put a jar of M&M candies on a shelf over the toilet, and every time he went and tried (by his own choice) to use the potty, he got an M&M. If he actually went in the potty, he got two. Positive reinforcement works VERY well with mentally challenged children (especially those with PPD and Autism)...yes I went on to get my degree in Child Psychology.

2) Don't put your child in Pull-Up type training pants. They absorb so much wetness, it doesn't bother the child, and wetness is so quickly absorbed that they don't realize they are wetting themselves. Stick with plain old undies. A pain for you, but better for training purposes.

3) Follow the old advice of constantly putting them on the potty to "try" (I think something like every 30-45 minutes). Don't just ask "Do you need to go?" because they will almost always say "No."

4) Remember, your child is not wetting/soiling themselves as an act of rebellion or defience. If they truly have a mental condition, they cannot help it. When you yell or punish for having an accident, all it creates is a high stress situation, where you child is less likely to want to try and learn (my brother would go hide after the fact).

I hope that my story helps someone, and they won't have to learn the hard way. Good Luck to You!

07-19-2002, 12:53 PM
I really have to support item #2 on daisymommy's list. We made the mistake of using Pullups, even though friends had recommended against it. It just didn't bother our daughter a bit when she wet them, because they were still so comfortable.

I have no experience with mentally challenged children, so I'm really not qualified to tell you what to do, but from my personal experiece, Pullups really did prolong the potty training wa-a-a-ay too long.

Best of luck to you during this time, Kelly. This process can be so frustrating and challenging for all moms, and I know you have extra hurdles to go through on your part. You and your child will make it through eventually... hang in there!

(Mom of one that's finally near the end of a looooooong potty training... never thought we'd make it to this point!)

01-25-2003, 03:07 AM

I know this thread is old and the original poster has most likely solved her problem, but in case it helps anyone else...

The book that Debbie is referring to (I think) is "Toilet Training Persons With Developmental Disabilities: A Rapid Program for Day and Nighttime Independent Toileting" by Richard M. Foxx (originally entitled "Toilet Training the Retarded," when published in 1973). My son has PDD-NOS (mild autism), though he is not mentally retarded, and I checked this book out of the library when we were going through toilet training with him. The people he developed this program for were institutionalized adults who seemed severely disabled, however he gives modifications for useage in the home.

However, there is also a section on training the retarded (his words, not mine) in his more popular book, "Toilet Training in Less than a Day," which is widely available in paperback. It's the same basic method, just modified for in-home use with children.

Oh, what ended up working for us (my son was pretty much daytime trained the summer before he turned 4) was suggested by my son's school psychologist: we took data for a couple of weeks on when my son was pottying (in his diaper at the time), then began taking him to the toilet every half hour or so until he finally had to go. We also used Foxx's tricks though of giving lots of drinks (makes for lots of peeing opportunities) and giving small rewards (candies or whatever) for even trying to use the toilet. We also made a game of running to the bathroom and giving lots of verbal reinforcement, tickling, etc, to make the bathroom fun, and let him run around naked (more for our benefit than his). When he finally did start using the toilet, we used a sticker chart; he got a sticker for each successful use of the toilet, and when he earned 10 stickers, he got a prize (Matchbox car, small book, whatever). When he was pretty much using the toilet all day (and earning his prizes in less than a day), we switched to a sticker for every dry day, and a bigger prize at the end of the week (video, special dinner). It took a while, but it did happen. He still has problems using certain types of toilets outside our home though--he doesn't like automatic toilets or ones in large public bathrooms. I can't say I blame him, but since he's a boy, in a pinch we let him "pee on a tree." I wish I could do that sometimes. :)

We used the same method, more or less, with my daughter, who's a year younger and "typical." The biggest challenge with her was phasing in wearing underwear--she would happily run around naked all day, even in the winter.