Autism from a mama who has been there. I am going to try to post every day this month. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments.
Help! My son froze to death very quickly and hated baths. In and out as fast as possible, and he would take towels into the tub to stay warm. A mountain of wet towels was not the hill I wanted to die on; at least he was clean. And smelled good, don’t you love freshly washed children?
When he was responsible enough to bathe himself, I learned there were some things I needed to do. 1. Take his dirty clothes out of the bathroom. (He would put them back on after he got out of the tub if I didn’t.) 2. Put clean underwear and pajamas in the bathroom so that he would put those on after he got out of the bathtub. 3. Make him pass the smell test. And if he didn’t pass, he had to do the whole thing again. I would smell his hair, his body, and if I was brave enough, his bum.
When I was lucky, he’d be cold enough after his tub to want to cuddle for a while. I took advantage of every cuddle I could get. They were rare, few, and far between.
We had a timer in the bathroom. My son had to brush his teeth until all the sand went out of the hourglass. And he had to pass another smell test. And if I thought that he might be trying to sneak something by me, I would scrape my nail over his tooth. (I know that sounds extreme, but dental health is essential.)
Potty training: Remarkably, many autistic children potty train quickly. They don’t like the feel or smell of wet diapers, and when they learn that they can end that they usually choose to do so. We had an issue with the toilet seat being cold and hard, so a naked child squatting with his feet on the toilet seat was a daily sight. This is also why it was imperative to teach him that it was socially unacceptable to be naked at school. Poop happens, but it had to happen at home!
Most kids with autism are going to have a problem with flushing the toilet. It is loud and in a confined space, like a household bathroom, deafening, or in an open space, like a public restroom, overwhelming! Be willing to flush for them. But ground rules are essential! You need to informed immediately that there is a toilet that needs to be flushed!
I think I covered everything, but if you can think of anything I missed or you have any questions about hygiene, ask me in the comments below.
Celebrate the small stuff. Be flexible. Laugh.