Sunday, January 9, 2011

Keeping it Clean

Nathan has always had problems with taking a bath. During his first washing, he SCREAMED the entire time. Not normal "I'm cold" kind of yelping, this was hard core death metal screaming. He's not fond of the combination of water and scrubbing. It's literally rubbed him the wrong way for years. 

We have had knock down drag out fights about getting clean. It would take a good 20 minutes to get him near the water. It was either too hot or too cold. He would dip his big toe daintily in the water, like he was a nymph or a mermaid and then react dramatically to the temperature. My eyes would roll accordingly. Once in the water, I would quickly try to soap up my squirming child without getting any in his eyes or any up my nose. Then his skin would itch after being in the water too long and he would start shredding his skin with his tiny fingers. At this point, he hadn't even washed his hair, so I would have to RUSH it, which exacerbated all anxiety. 

Bathtime was NOT fun time. 

As we've repeated this over 1000 times, we have learned a few tricks. The biggest trick was to teach Nathan how to do this to HIMSELF. Now, most of you mothers know that doing things ourselves is infinitely easier than having your Aspie spend hours getting frustrated. There does come a time when we do have to teach our children how to do the dirty work of getting clean. 

One Thing At A Time:

If you try to get them to do all of the steps all at once, you can kiss any type of progress goodbye. I started with Nate with him just holding the soap. Getting him to do that seemed insurmountable at first, but now, he's doing every step with minimal prompting. 

What to Wash First

That's up to you and what works with your child. Nate is a classic wash body and then hair kind of kid. Your child may be different. Whatever will make them comfortable and keep their anxiety down is important.  Trial and error (and patience) comes in handy here. 

The Dirty Truth

What you wash with is important, too. Some Aspies have texture issues. Some have scent issues. Some have both. What kind of cleaning agent you use can make a difference between a comfortable bath and a what feels like a dip in shredded wool pads. Nate doesn't like scented things, so his soap and shampoo is unscented and dye free. has tons of customizable bath products for kids who are on the sensitive side.

It's Okay To Let Go

No matter how many times we grumble and groan that we HATE giving our child a bath, it's the one time during the day that we're fussing over our kids. It's a bonding moment, and if you're anything like me, you are almost hesitant to stop doing this routine. If you do, then that's one less apron string for your Aspie to hold onto. This is something that they will benefit from, and a skill they need to learn. It's hard, believe me, but now I am thankful that I don't get a second shower each day. 

Nathan is a pro at his clean routine. He doesn't even need me to rinse after he shampoos his hair, he sticks his face under the spray like a happy canine. He still hems and haws a bit when he has to go in, but now it's easier and faster because he's in control.

I still have to make his lunch, though. That's a few years off. :)