Personal Hygiene Struggles and Autism

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Chloe is 8 1/2 years old and I have been working on teaching her how to care for herself when it comes to personal hygiene. There is one big obstacle to this. She has such high sensory issues that some of this is downright painful. Brushing her teeth is a battle. I let her brush them first and then I have to go over them. Chloe is very picky about toothpaste. It can’t have a strong taste or be any color but clear or blue. I have had to revert back to training toothpaste a few times. She already has to use deodorant, which started at 7 years old. I thought that is so young!! She does very well applying this herself. Brushing her hair is another adventure we partake in. She wants her hair long and gives me fits when it’s time to brush it. I use every product I can think of to make it easier. Right now she isn’t fighting me so hard and is even letting me put in bows.

I have started teaching her how to bathe herself and know this will take time to learn. When she asks me how to do something, which is rare, I go with it.  She is also learning to dry herself after her bath. Now lets talk about the biggest problem area…CLEANING HER EARS!!! I don’t use Q-tips because well I just don’t like them. She gets extremely upset when I even go near her ears. I usually wipe them out with a damp cloth and it’s no problem. When I need to really get in the creases that’s when it gets ugly. It really traumatizes her. I feel so bad about it scaring her, but it’s part of personal hygiene and must be done. I know she doesn’t understand the importance of any of this “Hygiene Stuff”, but I need her to learn that it is important.

Sunday night my husband and I had to hold her down to clean them. We kept reassuring her we loved her and that we would not hurt her, but it didn’t matter, we were near her ears. When it was over she just sat and cried. It broke our hearts. We know puberty is only a few years away and I will be the first to admit that I am quite nervous about it, but I know we will get through it. It’s just another thing in an Autistic child’s life that is harder to deal with than for most children without Autism. We just have to do the best we can and find the easiest way to teach Chloe how to do handle each situation. I pray each day for God’s guidance in every thing I do with Chloe.  I welcome advice from any of you that are going through this now with your child or have gone through it before. We are here to help each other.

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5 thoughts on “Personal Hygiene Struggles and Autism”

  1. I can relate to this post a lot. All of my children have sensory issues – my oldest hates the feel of the toothbrush. My younger two have the harder time with the taste of the toothpaste. And my daughter also wants long hair – but won’t let me anywhere near it to help her maintain it! And she won’t brush it either. And my youngest recently potty trained at 6 – but still won’t wipe. Or bathe regularly. I agree, personal hygiene struggles are tough with autism!

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      1. My oldest isn’t on the autism spectrum – he just has a lot of sensory issues. He doesn’t like to towel after a shower – doesn’t like the way it feels against his skin. And still leaves the room when I vacuum (they all do – it’s great when I need a break 😉 ) But he is super helpful with the other two who are on the spectrum. So, I do have a lot of help, which is great

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  2. I’m glad Bethany is in a shower liking phase now! But she absolutely refuses to even try to wash herself!

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