National Read a Book Day occurs on the 6th September each year. The idea of this is that we are encouraged to take a few minutes a day to enjoy reading a book. It is also celebrated as an opportunity to share a book with children. Research has shown that just a short amount of time reading each day has a positive effect on children’s development. Reading can improve concentration and memory, as well as reduce stress.
For children, books help them to understand the world. Not only are picture books fun for children, but they allow the use of more than one sense to understand the story: children hear the words being read to them, they see the pictures and process those to aid understanding, as well as being able to enjoy the smell and feel of the book. If they are cuddled up with an adult, they are also experiencing the security and warmth of being close to someone else.
For children with sensory or processing differences, including those with autism, developmental and learning disabilities, picture books are a particularly useful tool to help them to learn typical behaviours, as well as what is expected of them when they are working on a new skill.
Picture books for children with bladder and/or bowel issues
Bladder & Bowel UK suggest using two different kinds of picture books for children who have bladder and/or bowel issues.
We have two stories that we recommend for National Read a Book Day. Within our children’s resources, our social stories have a single picture on each page and is presented with very few words or a single sentence. The series of pictures provide information about what will happen in a certain situation. In this way the child knows what is going to happen next. Therefore, social stories are useful in development of specific skills, such as toilet training. They explain the sequence of events in toileting in a way that children who struggle to process language can access easily. They help the child understand what is expected of them, at each point. This reduces the stress and anxiety that may arise when their more familiar routine of nappy changing is altered.
Bladder & Bowel UK recommend using social stories as one of the first steps of toilet training for all children. We suggest taking a look at Talk About Toilet Training, available at: https://www.bbuk.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/A4-TALK-ABOUT-GOING-TO-THE-TOILET-2017-1.pdf. The link includes information on introducing toilet training for families, as well as social stories and a colouring book for children.
Social stories are particularly helpful for many children who find understanding or using language difficult. This includes children with autism, or other processing differences/learning disabilities including Down syndrome. There is more information about using social stories for toilet training in the Bladder & Bowel UK leaflet, Toilet Training Children with Autism and Related Conditions, available from: https://www.bbuk.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Information-for-professionals-and-carers-re-toilet-training.pdf
Metaphorical Stories are a way help to introduce ideas that can be used as a way of learning and of changing unwanted behaviours. They provide different ways of looking at a problem or issue in a way that children should be able to understand. This then allows them to relate the story to their own situation. They always have an ending that helps resolve the problem. It is suggested that the child is encouraged to discuss the main character’s feelings and how the other characters might be able to help. The pictures can be used to start conversations with the child, which may help adults understand the child’s feelings and reasons for any behaviours.
Bladder & Bowel UK have two metaphorical stories available on their website at www.bbuk.org.uk/metaphorical-and-social-stories/. In the story of Elly’s Success, Elly is an elephant who has to learn to hold water in his trunk, so that he can squirt it at the circus clowns and make people laugh. The story tells of Elly’s disappointment that he is not able to hold the water and then his happiness as he achieves success. It is a metaphor for children who need to learn to become dry. The other story is called Henny’s Success, and is about a hen who is unable to lay her eggs in the hen house. It is a metaphor for children who have problems with soiling and need to learn to open their bowels in the toilet.
All the books and leaflets on the Bladder & Bowel UK website at www.bbuk.org.uk are free to download and print. There is also confidential advice and support available on all bladder and bowel issues in children and in adults available from the Bladder & Bowel UK helpline. Please contact us via email: email@example.com or telephone: 0161 214 4591.