Toilet Training in Angelman Syndrome

Mary Chapman avatar

by Mary Chapman |

Share this article:

Share article via email
toilet training

Children and adults with Angelman syndrome can experience incontinence. Despite cognitive and behavioral problems associated with the neurological disease, you can still toilet train your child, however.

Here is some information about incontinence and tips for helping you with toilet training your child.

About Angelman syndrome

Angelman is a rare genetic disorder that affects the nervous system and leads to intellectual and physical disabilities. It develops due to the malfunction or absence of the UBE3A gene, which is inherited from the mother. Most patients receive a diagnosis between ages 9 months and 6 years.

About incontinence in Angelman syndrome

Many adults with Angelman experience some form of incontinence — a lack of voluntary control over urination or defecation — throughout their lives. However, the rate of incontinence is higher among younger patients. Likely causes include a lower level of adaptive functioning, along with the seizures associated with Angelman, one study suggests.

In another study of 71 Angelman patients, those who were younger and had epilepsy or a lower level of adaptive functioning, or both, had higher levels of incontinence. Most primary caregivers reported severe intellectual disability as the main cause of urinary incontinence.

Among 90 children and 54 adults with Angelman involved in a 2017 study, 85.6% had at least one subtype of incontinence, including nighttime bedwetting, daytime urinary incontinence, and fecal incontinence. Epilepsy and the patient’s genetic makeup were likely causes, according to the study.

Tips for toilet training your child

Despite intellectual and behavioral challenges, children with Angelman syndrome can learn continence. Here are some tips that can help you successfully toilet train your child with Angelman.

  • Allow your child to view you and other family members using the toilet. Be open about the fact that everyone voids.
  • Starting early on, try to only perform incontinence pad changes in a bathroom. Tell your child in a way he or she can understand that the bathroom is where urinary and fecal voids happen. If your child is able, have him or her stand while you change pads.
  • Speak with your child’s physician or an occupational therapist about tools or equipment you’ll need for toilet training, especially if your son or daughter is too big for child potties. You may need to install a seat insert or a portable step to make sure your child can properly reach the toilet and sit on it safely. You also may wish to install handles on either side of the commode seat so that your child is comfortable using the toilet.
  • Before training is necessary, it’s helpful to read book portions to your child to help them understand and get used to the concept.
  • Take your child to the bathroom every 1.5-to-two hours and encourage him or her to sit on the toilet. It might be better to do this with children after they have had meals so that they are not hungry or thirsty.
  • Be generous with praise at all stages. Do so even if all that you accomplished has been getting your child to sit on the commode. Use any tangible rewards sparingly, and only for actual fecal or urinary production.


Last updated: Dec. 7, 2020


Angelman Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.