A difficulty shared by a lot of children on the autism spectrum is their dislike for the personal hygiene process. This is due most often to sensory issues. I’ve experienced this with my own child; two areas that can be very difficult in my home are showering/bath time, and the cleaning of teeth. Every child, with autism, is different and will require different tailored needs for solutions. These are some that have worked for my family.
In my own house teeth cleaning can become the most difficult process. My daughter hates the taste of minty toothpaste, which led us to experiment a lot in this area, and now we only use bubble gum flavoured toothpaste with a regular toothbrush. Some parents I have spoken to recommend an electric toothbrush which can be a bit pricey, but they find that the vibration from the brush can be more soothing for their child.
Showering & Bath Time
Some children on the spectrum hate the feel of water on their skin and my daughter is no different, this makes bath time a very difficult process. There are several factors which include water temperature, the feel of water on her head, soap getting in her eyes and the smell of the shampoo. For our family what works is filling up the sink with warm water and gently washing Sadie with a soft sponge while playing her favourite songs and rhymes. To speed up this process we use a 2 in 1 conditioner and shampoo and we always make sure we always have warm towels at the ready.
These are just two areas that create huge difficulty in my home and I know that bath time might be a difficult time for a lot of other parents of children with autism. If your child resists at bath time, you should try and change some of the sensory aspects of bath time to see if it will have any positive affect. For my family it was very much a trial and error process that is still evolving to suite Sadie. The one thing we as parents must be is patient and sensitive to what our children are trying to communicate.
Our first trip to the dentist is coming up soon and I can say with confidence that I am not looking forward to it.