The first step in creating a successful routine is to create a couple of bad ones. Experiment, talk to your child and pay attention to their body language to find out what is working and what is not.
Crucially, don’t abandon a strategy just because it didn’t work the first time around. Try it a second time, even a third, or fourth time before looking into other options. Sometimes your child just needs the repetition in order to grasp the concept. You can never underestimate the power of a good bath and shower routine, but it will be some work to get there.
Here’s a typical children’s bath routine:
Turn on the faucet tap
Turn the faucet tap off (when it reaches predetermined level)
Check bath water for a comfortable temperature
Get into the bathtub
Wash hair with shampoo
Rinse hair and shampoo with water
Put soap on cloth or loofah
Wash rest of body from top-down
Rinse the soap off with water
Unplug drain and let water out of the tub
Get out of the tub
Use a towel to dry off
There are several visual schedules of this routine online to download but here’s an example:
What’s so nice about autism bath routines is that they break up bathing into distinct, easily grasped units. Take every little ‘win’ you’re able to accomplish and build on that. At first, a parent might have to do all the steps. But over time you can pass off one task at a time to your child until they can do all of them on their own.
Don’t let it upset you or derail all your optimism if there are setbacks. These are inevitable. Children with autism are all very different, and what works for one may or may not work for someone else, and it will take time to learn the entire routine.
Goally to the rescue!!
Goally can be a great tool to help with bath time! You can set prompts in Goally to give your child with autism more ownership over their own bath time with less prompting needed from you, the parent. This cuts down greatly on the resistance many children tend to give parents who are trying to tell them what to do and when to do it.
Goally is able to reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a routine by keeping your child on task during bath time when there are plenty of distractions and opportunities to procrastinate getting out of the tub, or getting properly clean. Goally is able to accomplish this without ever making your child feel rushed or anxious.
Goally can help you teach new skills to your child, including bath time skills. Complex tasks can be broken down into a series of steps your child can easily follow. You can also track how long bath time is taking every day over time and how often this routine is completed successfully.
When it comes to bath time, Goally is everyone’s friend!
Ashley Lavoie is a mom of three and manages both child and adult ADHD and neonatal diabetes. She is advocating for awareness and loves writing and connecting with other families like hers.
Editor's note: This information is not meant to diagnose or treat and should not take the place of personal consultation, as needed, with a qualified healthcare provider and/or BCBA.