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Help a Child With UC Prep for Bathroom Emergencies

Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on October 22, 2020

Kids with UC need to go to school, play with friends, and do all the normal things that are part of growing up. But the symptoms of their condition, including pooping often, and an urgent, sudden need to go, mean that they need easy access to a bathroom. That doesn’t mean your child can’t ever leave the house, but it does mean you need to help them prepare to handle a bathroom emergency if it happens.

Younger kids need more day-to-day help to manage their UC, while older kids and teens can take care of bathroom needs on their own. Talk to your child and listen to their concerns. If they can take part in making a plan to handle or prevent accidents, they may feel a lot more confident about living with UC.

UC Bathroom Emergency Kit

One way to plan for a possible emergency is to make sure your child knows where they can find the closest bathroom at all times. They should also carry a small bag with:

  • A clean change of clothes, plus a plastic bag to hold soiled items
  • Flushable wet wipes
  • A small bottle of air freshener

If they’re using a public bathroom that’s grimy or doesn’t have access to running water they’ll also want to carry:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Disinfectant wipes for the toilet, door handles, sink, and other fixtures

Bathroom Emergencies at School

Students with active UC will need to use the bathroom many, sometimes even dozens, of times a day at school. There could also be long periods, called remission, when their symptoms fade away.

Teachers and other school staff may not understand UC, its patterns, or that a bathroom emergency can pop up suddenly. Talk to them about the illness and work together to come up with a plan for handling these situations. Some ideas include:

  • An “anytime” bathroom pass. Your child’s teachers will allow them to use the bathroom without asking permission, and they won’t get into trouble.
  • Access to a private bathroom. It may be in the nurse’s office or a staff area.
  • A code phrase. If your child is worried about drawing attention to themselves, a simple phrase like, “I need a break,” discreetly lets their teachers know they need to use the bathroom.

It’s also important to remind kids that these breaks are only for the bathroom, not other activities, and they should go back to class as soon as they can.

UC Accommodation Plan

Section 504 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act protects the rights of students with disabilities in some schools. A 504 plan is a legal document that makes sure schools treat these students fairly and gives them special accommodations to continue their education.

Kids with medical conditions like ulcerative colitis, along with caregivers and school staff, can create a plan to include:

  • An overview of UC
  • Your child’s bathroom-related symptoms, like pooping a lot and throwing up
  • Their needs, like how many bathroom trips they could take in a day or a staff member help to them
  • The school’s point person to carry out the plan and how they’ll do it
  • Accommodations like:
    • A bathroom pass
    • Access to a private bathroom
    • Permission to carry a bathroom emergency bag
    • More time to take or make up tests and other classwork
    • A note taker during missed class time
    • A classroom seat that’s closer to the door

Some nonprofits like the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation have education coordinators who will work with your child’s school to help draft a 504 plan and make sure staff meet their needs.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Mary C. Esna-Ashari, MPH, National Education Director, Crohn's & Colitis Foundation, Central Territory.

Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation: “Planning with Your Child,” “Template Section 504 Plan for Children with Inflammatory Bowel Disease,” “The Facts About Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.”

U.S. Department of Education: “Protecting Students With Disabilities.”

KidsHealth: “504 Education Plans.”

CICRA: “Psychological Issues.”

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