How to get Help when Your Teen is Incontinent

Mark Arnold by Mark Arnold Additional Needs

Mark Arnold

Mark Arnold

Mark heads up Urban Saints pioneering additional needs ministry programme and is co-founder of the ‘Additional Needs Alliance’, a learning and supp...

How to get Help when Your Teen is Incontinent

Any of us who have parented a child will know that one of the early challenges we all face is toileting. Helping our child to be able to move from nappies to pants and be able to use a potty and then the toilet. First during the day, then at night. Those of us with children with disabilities or additional needs may still be supporting our child on that journey, it can take much, much longer to get there. There are some great products that can help with this, including the Firefly GottaGo portable toilet seat.

For some of us, the journey may never end; our child, for all sorts of reasons, may never be able to independently use the toilet, may remain incontinent, may always need support in this area. If this is something that you might be at the beginning of experiencing, then this article is for you.

Those of us with teenage children (or older) who remain incontinent, maybe all the time, maybe ‘just’ at night, will need no reminding of the challenges that this can bring both for our children and ourselves. Same problems as with a smaller child, just…. more! There is help available though, although as with most things in the disability world, you have to know about it to be able to access it!

Here’s a couple of places that we’ve found help, and that might help you and your family too:

NHS continence services

There will be an NHS continence service near you. Search online for ‘NHS continence services’ and you will be able to see where your nearest one is to contact them. You may need to get a referral, but this can be done via your GP or sometimes by your school (the school nurse at our sons’ school did this for us).

They can provide advice, information, access to products like bed wetting alarms etc. and may also be able to register you for continence products such as larger sized pads etc. We get a big shipment arrive every few months! If you are still buying continence products for your older child, getting them provided through the continence service can make a big, big difference!

CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services)

I know not everyone has positive stories to tell about CAMHS. We’re one of the fortunate families that have had really great experiences in our interactions with them and they have been a source of great advice. There can be all kinds of reasons why your older child is incontinent, some physical, some mental or psychological, but getting help from CAMHS to assess your child and offer their thoughts and input can either help pinpoint something to work on together, or rule things out. A range of mental health conditions, including anxiety, can contribute towards incontinence and the last 18-months hasn’t helped any of us in this area so don’t rule it out as part of your child’s struggle too.

Helping your teen know they aren’t alone

There are plenty of young people out there who have continence difficulties, and as we’ve explored this can be for many different reasons, but helping our teens know that they are not alone, that it’s not just them, can be important. If they are able to navigate websites and use them to get help and support, you could try ‘The Mix’

Whatever you do though, do something. Don’t let your older child struggle but start the journey to find support and maybe even solutions. It could be that your child will remain incontinent, but at least they can be more comfortable. It could be that something in this article gives you a pointer towards helping your older child to become continent. Either way, you don’t journey alone, there are many of us on the journey with you, and we’re cheering you all on!


Text and images © 2021, Mark Arnold


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