Re: Down syndrome and Autism pottie training
You are such a wonderful friend & your friends definitely have their hands full!
Your friends may already know this, but if you live in the US and have a child with a disability, you can go through the county health department for services at the home, including child care & behavior/play therapy. Are the boys already enrolled in an educational program?
I realize their oldest son is 6, but why are they pushing him into potty training? Mentally, he may only be 2 or younger? A child will only be successful when they are emotionally ready, not just physically. Usually with Down Syndrome, a child acts younger than their actual age. He's going ballistic because he's probably not ready. There are potty videos he can watch with cute songs that maybe will get him interested in the potty. He won't be successful when he's pushed into it. There is no magic age when a child has a disability. One needs to take ques from them, and watching the musical potty video, can make it a pleasant experience. For now, your friends should not push the potty issue. Just casually pop the DVD into the player, and let him at least enjoy the songs. Maybe start a sticker chart for both boys. When they fill it, they get a toy they want. So if the 5 year is motivated to get a toy, and does earn one, the 6 year old might then become interested.
Fecal smearing is not unheard of. There are children that do this. If they can find a way that he not access his paints... Does he like super heroes or costumes? Maybe if he wore something like a 'cool' costume, he wouldn't try to gain access to his pants.
I'm sure part of the reason the 5 year old gets into mischief, is because of all the attention and care his brother gets, and in return, he'll seek attention any way he can get it. Positive praise for both boys especially when things are always difficult, takes effort, but is a must for good behavior, and most importantly, so they feel loved. Maybe you, as a friend, could take the 5 year old out for ice cream, if his parents think that would be a good idea.
Six years of sleeping in the room with the child until he gets to sleep is a disaster on a marriage. That's a bad habit that will take a while to break. Normally, I would say, let a child cry it out. But if it could cause injury to himself, that's obviously something to take into consideration.
They don't have to feel like bad parents if their son needs medication in order to sleep. Especially if he doesn't get quality sleep at night. And apparently, no one is.
If you do live in the US, there is help out there. A live in caretaker would be a nice. Check with the county health department for resources.
I wish I could be more of a help. Let me know if you have any further questions.