In our previous couple of blog posts, we have focused in on the challenges of bath time for children with autism. Today we're going to take a bit of a different approach and talk about teens and shower struggles. In truth an autism shower routine is not much different from a bath routine. However, there are some distinct differences to take into account.
Shawna Wingert, the owner of Different by Design Learning, shared a story about shower struggles she had to overcome as a mother of a young son reaching puberty. Shawna compiled an especially helpful is a list of recommendations for helping kids with sensory sensitivities shower. Here they are:
Change to a “rain” showerhead. It will help ease the sensory overload of the shower water “feeling like needles.”
Change to a “rain” showerhead. This will cut down the noise of the water beating down considerably.
Take a bath instead.
Warm up the bathroom ahead of time to make the temperature changes less dramatic.
Install a handheld shower nozzle. This allows our children to have a sense of control.
Don’t worry so much about it. We have a cultural expectation that is very different from most places. Body spray and a quick wipe down will help.
Dry shampoo works wonders.
Dim the lights. Sometimes the lighting is half the sensory battle.
Set a schedule and stick to it. The more it becomes a standard expectation, the easier it will be for both of you.
Try different times of the day. First thing in the morning or last thing at night can be the toughest times for our sensory systems.
Buy lots of baby wipes and allow him to use them instead.
Let it go. Many teenage boys fail to shower regularly. You have bigger fish to fry!
In addition to those we would also add:
Try push-button soap, shampoo, and conditioner dispensers on the shower wall or free-standing bottles with pumps. Label them by name and number them in order of use.
Use a combination conditioner and shampoo to help speed up hair-washing time in the shower
Attach an anti-fog plastic mirror (via suction cups) in the bathroom shower so a child can see themselves wash. Studies have shown the importance of mirror self-recognition behavior in autism development.
A lot of teens with autism still dislike showering. Many have an extreme aversion to them. But we all know the importance of cleanliness, and introducing a good hygiene routine to autistic teens.
With a bit of planning and organization, bath an shower time won’t always have to be a task that’s dreaded by both parent and child. The important thing is that you remain patient with yourself, and stay optimistic!
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.