#AUTISM: That Thing Called Shower Or Bath

My daughter LOVES the beach. If it wasn’t for all the shark news this year we would’ve gone to the beach more than once this summer because of her. She also loves swimming in my brother-in-law’s pool. Our plan this summer is to get our own pool for the backyard. Emma has been counting her coins and asking us to go to the store to buy the pool. We have to explain to her that her coins are not enough and that it’s errrmm winter season so we have to wait a few more months. This is how much she loves playing in the ocean and swimming pools which is why it’s such a mystery how much she abhors taking a shower or a bath.

Shower or bath times are an event in our household. As much as I hate to admit it, yes there have been screaming matches once the words bath or shower are introduced. There have been tears, both from child and adults. WHY OH WHY??? There have been numerous negotiations. A 5 minute shower or a bath? It wouldn’t matter what as long as she gets one thing done.

Why is this such an issue? I guess it’s part of the sensory difficulties. It’s a matter of how a child with autism feels about the water hitting her/his skin, or the noise from the water, or the temperature. My daughter prefers the water cold. Not warm, COLD! I don’t know how but thankfully I’ve managed so far to trick her into letting me splash her a little bit with cold water then run it warm. It’s a trial and error basis because she knows and we’ve had moments of her telling me it’s too hot when I’m doing my best to balance the temperature so she doesn’t get pneumonia from cold water. Is that even possible? I have no freaking clue. THE STRUGGLE IS REAL! After the shower or bath there is of course the drying of hair and then brushing to avoid getting it tangled like a nest which will be even more difficult if you don’t persevere on that day itself.

From Aspie In The Family: Another challenge is showering and bathing. Some children hate the feel of water and for a time our son hated the sensation from the spray of water when taking a shower. The other area of difficulty is the contrast in temperature; cooler water being sprayed on my son when he is hot is very difficult for him to deal with so its important we get the temperature of the water right. Even leaving a warm bath into the cooler air can be an unpleasant experience for my children but I’ve found that warmed up towels and clothes can help when coming out of the bath or shower.

Washing hair is another difficult area. Aversion for hair washing can relate to the temperature of the water, the feel of water on their head, soap getting in eyes and the texture and smell of the shampoo and conditioner. Both my children have very sensitive scalps which makes washing and brushing their hair a painful experience. My son in particular is very reluctant to wash his hair but we’ve found the 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioners and the all in one body and hair washes useful. It reduces the number of products my son has to use which makes the process of cleaning himself easier. For my daughter, a good conditioner is essential as it reduces those awful knots you get in longer hair. Similarly wide toothed combs and soft brushes are also helpful but again you have to practice with different brushes and combs to find what is right for your child. You could look out for combs and brushes in your child’s favourite colour or one with a character motif on which can all help with motivation and engagement. (source)

So imagine my surprise last Sunday when my daughter did not put up a fight when I told her it was time to take a bath. She told me afterwards, in between brushing her teeth, “well, it’s a shower, everyone’s gonna have one.” JAW MEETS FLOOR!

When Scott got back from the woods that day and saw that Emma is all showered, naturally he asked if she gave Mommy a hard time. She said no which I confirmed then told him exactly what she said, “well, it’s a shower, everyone’s gonna have one.” To sum up his reaction…

To cut this short I’ll offer this message to my fellow autism parents who are also dealing with shower or bath issues. Hang in there. One day your child will just blow your mind. This might just be a one time thing or it could finally be the breakthrough that we need but either way, there is progress. I don’t know what I did that day that finally made her realize that indeed we all have to take a shower but as it always is, just rolling with it.

Dexie Jane

Mother of 2. She drinks coffee everyday and wine on the weekends. She devours massive amount of chocolate, pork, and sushi. She loves to dance in her living room and binge-watches KDRAMA, historical dramas, and excessive unhealthy dose of Crime/Murder mysteries/dramas/documentaries. She's also a proud Bibliophile and loves being a bargain fashionista & SHOEHOLIC!

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