I Gotta Go To The Bathroom

Music Therapy bathroom song for special needs individuals.
Goal: Client will verbally request to use the bathroom when needed.
Domains: Behavior, Speech, Language

This song was created with a particular client in mind. At some point during a typical 60-minute session he will stand up, pat his head, and make a sound like “huh,” and run off. What these actions, gestures, and vocalizations signify is that he needs to use the bathroom. The trouble is that he does not wait for permission, head patting is nowhere close to the universally recognized ASL sign for bathroom, and “huh” sounds nothing like the word “bathroom.” If this student is with an adult who is unfamiliar with his routine, his actions could be interpreted as eloping, he could be prevented from leaving, and he could potentially soil himself.

Because this client has shown progress with other speech goals, it was decided to help him more clearly enunciate the word “bathroom.” Several factors impeded his intelligibility. He was not beginning the word correctly with the /b/ sound, so this sound is emphasized in the song. He was also saying just 1-syllable instead of the 2-syllable word “bath-room.” In the song, the carrier phrase “I gotta go to the” is a steady beat all on the same note, with the syllables for “bath-room” sung with more space between and on two different notes. After several months, he is being verbally prompted to say “bathroom” when I sing the sentence starter “I gotta go to the.” /th/ and /r/ are difficult sounds, so at this point we’re closer to “baa-woom” but even this approximation is going to be more easily understood. The ultimate goal is for the client to initiate the entire phrase when needed. Because of this, the more colloquial “gotta” was chosen as the speech sounds are less difficult than the more formal “need to” or “want to.”

This song wasn’t “written” as much as it just popped out of my mouth one session and the melody and rhythm worked perfectly. If you’re not familiar, the source song is La Bamba, a Mexican folk song made popular by Richie Valens in 1958, although I was familiar with it from the 1987 movie of the same name starring Lou Diamond Phillips. I probably hadn’t heard La Bamba since the 80s and I’m not sure why it resurfaced. Musical memories are weird that way.

While the client I wrote the song for is proficient in actually using the bathroom independently, some of the other kids I see are toilet training. Some of them are on bathroom schedules and need to go before, during, or after a music therapy session. For these kids I’ve begun using the song as a transition cue – sort of bathroom time theme music. While I work with kids 1-on-1, I could see this being used in classrooms with bathroom schedules as a fun way to transition an entire class to the toilets.

Download includes:

  • I Gotta Go To The Bathroom song [mp3 audio file]
  • I Gotta Go To The Bathroom (instrumental) song [mp3 audio file]
  • I Gotta Go To The Bathroom lyrics [PDF]
  • I Gotta Go To The Bathroom lyrics & chords [PDF]


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