April is Autism Awareness Month, which is a great time to learn more about autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and its relationship to incontinence. Often when people think of urinary incontinence, they may believe it only affects elderly people. In reality, incontinence can affect anyone of any age or gender at any time.
If you are a parent or caregiver for a child with autism who is struggling with incontinence, we understand it can be a challenge. However, finding the right insurance-covered incontinence products may help.
Why Do Children With Autism Have Incontinence?
Incontinence can affect many kids with special needs, including autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, and more. While not all children with autism deal with fecal or urinary incontinence, others do. This may be a struggle for their parents or caregivers without support.
Many kids on the spectrum have behavioral challenges, such as resistance to changes in their routine. Some may be aware they need to urinate but are unable to get themselves to a bathroom in time, which is known as functional incontinence. Other children may not be able to communicate when they need to use the bathroom. Some autistic children have issues primarily with nighttime bedwetting, which is also known as nocturnal enuresis.
Ultimately, it appears that autism-related incontinence is due in part to the unique challenges that sometimes come with being on the spectrum.
Tips for Handling Your Autistic Child’s Incontinence Issues
1. Make an appointment to see your child’s doctor.
First, visit your child’s pediatrician or another prescribing doctor. They can rule out any physical issues that may cause incontinence, such as a neurogenic bladder. Then they’ll likely come up with a management plan, which may include the use of incontinence products for children.
In addition, if you want insurance-covered incontinence supplies for your child, you may need a prescription and/or doctor’s notes. Depending on your insurance plan, they may also require authorization before covering incontinence supplies. However, luckily, most insurance plans including Medicaid plans, typically cover incontinence products for children when and if they are medically necessary.
2. Create a plan to approach your child’s incontinence.
When it comes to dealing with your child’s incontinence, the best way to tackle it is by making a plan. Also, stay patient and understanding with them as well as with yourself. However, by creating a new routine and staying persistent with it, together, you and your child can find a new normal.
This plan may involve creating a specific schedule with timers that remind you at regular intervals when it’s time for a bathroom break.
Plan ahead for certain activities and events. If your child attends school or daycare, it’s a good idea to have a conversation with the teacher, principal, and/or teacher’s aides so they can also be prepared for situations that may arise.
3. Get the right incontinence products for your child.
Incontinence products are not “one-size-fits-all.” Different products offer different features for various situations and body types.
You may need to consider any or all of the following factors to determine which incontinence supplies may work best for your child:
- Type of incontinence (urinary, fecal, or a combination of both)
- The level of incontinence (mild to heavy)
- Body size
- Activity levels
- Level of odor controls
- Washable or disposable preference
As you can see, many factors play a part in which incontinence products may work best for your child with autism. No wonder it can seem like a challenge! That’s where 180 Medical’s fully-trained Incontinence Specialists can step in to help and support you.
We’ll listen to your needs and preferences while following your doctor’s treatment plan. Then together, we’ll customize an order that’s just right for your child.
What Type of Incontinence Product is Right for My Child with Autism?
As mentioned above, a lot of factors go into determining which types, sizes, and absorbency levels fit best. Our Incontinence Specialists will gladly help you navigate your options, including some of the below popular product types.
Children’s Diapers and Disposable Briefs
Diapers and briefs for children and adolescents are popular incontinence products for kids. This is due to their high absorbency levels, which can often handle both fecal and urinary incontinence issues and heavy outputs. Plus, youth diapers for special needs are easy to put on and take off, thanks to adhesive tabs and tear-away features.
Many brands also feature wetness indicators to help you know when it’s time to change. Disposable youth diapers with this type of indicator can be especially helpful to caregivers of autistic children who are nonverbal or can’t fully communicate their needs.
Depending on the brand of youth diapers for special needs, you may find features such as leg cuffs that offer additional leakage protection as well as ventilated fabric to reduce skin irritation.
Youth Training Pants and Pull-On Protective Underwear
If your child with autism experiences nocturnal enuresis (nighttime bedwetting), youth pants or pull-on training underwear for children could be a good option. These are typically less bulky than diapers or briefs. Thus, they’re slimmer and more discreet for wearing underneath clothes.
Youth pants and pull-on disposable underwear for special needs often look, feel, and act like real underwear. They may also help catch accidents between scheduled bathroom breaks if you’re actively working with your child on potty-training.
Plus, training pants and disposable children’s underwear often include features such as odor-locking absorbent cores, breathable fabrics, and wetness indicators.
Underpads, which are also known as bed pads or chux, add security from leaks to your mattresses and furniture. It’s a helpful backup option for many parents and caregivers to help protect your child’s bedding and mattress from stains, odors, leaks, and damage due to nighttime bedwetting. Plus, they offer protection to wheelchairs, chairs and couches, dining room chairs, floors, and anywhere else your child may be.
Incontinence underpads are available in various sizes and absorbency levels. While some prefer reusable bed pads, others prefer disposable underpads they can easily discard.
Today’s underpads are more breathable and less bulky while offering additional security.
Booster pads aren’t like bladder control pads that fasten by adhesive to regular underwear. This incontinence product type only works with another absorbent product like children’s diapers or training pants to provide an additional “boost” of absorbency and leakage protection.
Because booster pads do not have a waterproof backing, they cannot be used alone in regular underwear. However, many parents and caregivers find booster pads extremely useful for extending the life of the other incontinence products their child may be wearing.
These are just a few of the most popular incontinence product types for children, adolescents, and teens.
Will Insurance Cover Incontinence Products for My Child with Autism?
Yes, many health insurance plans, including the majority of state Medicaid programs, will cover incontinence products when they are medically necessary.
At 180 Medical, we understand the challenges you may be facing as a parent or caregiver of a child with incontinence. Our compassionate specialists aim to fully support you, listen to your needs, and find the appropriate products to make your life a little easier.
Contact us to get started.