Proper personal hygiene starts at home. Parents play an important role in making sure their autistic child knows basic, important personal hygiene.
They can be the perfect role models for their child by doing and showing their child how they do good personal hygiene habits. Autistic children mimic what they see.
If they see their parents regularly showering, brushing teeth, and washing hands, they’ll learn these habits fast and easy. Most importantly, they’ll learn that hygiene is important.
Start teaching personal hygiene at an early age.
Frequent reinforcements about personal hygiene will help autistic children learn more.
Giving lots of encouragement and praise for accomplishing hygiene tasks will also help.
Parents can explain to their autistic child that keeping a clean body is healthy.
As an example, they can remind their child what bacteria and germs can do if someone does not wash hands before eating or after going to the toilet.
Basic, daily personal hygiene is about washing hands, keeping the body neat and clean, and covering the mouth when sneezing or coughing. There is a social element to dealing with personal things though.
Here are the most common hygiene problems that autistic children may face. Parents can cite these problems when helping their autistic child understand the importance of personal hygiene habits.
Practicing good oral hygiene is important at any age.
Brushing teeth twice a day and regular flossing are important if parents want their autistic child to avoid tooth decay, bad breath, and gum problems.
Parents also need to maintain regular dental appointments for their autistic child.
Good body hygiene is also important at any age. Washing and bathing regularly keep off dirt and bacteria which feed on human sweat, dead skin cells, and other bodily fluids causing bad body odor.
Changing clothes and underwear regularly is part of good body hygiene too. Bad odor-causing bacteria live in soiled and smelly clothes.
When autistic children reach puberty, parents should teach them to use antiperspirant deodorant. Sweat glands in their armpit and genital area develop, increasing their chances of getting bad body odor.
Allowing them to choose their own brand and scent can encourage them to use deodorants.
Toilet Hygiene and Habit
Teaching autistic children to use the toilet and helping them establish toilet hygiene are challenging tasks to go through.
It takes longer for them to learn how to use a toilet than with normal children resulting in many autistic children using a toilet at a late age.
Personal grooming is more of a social reason rather than a physical one as to why autistic children should learn how to practice them. The thought of teaching them however, is daunting.
Nonetheless, it is still proper to let them understand the importance of being and smelling clean, having a neat appearance, and looking nice. Enabling them to look their best can increase their confidence and may provide them with a healthy social life.
If these good personal hygiene habits are dealt with and established at an early age, they become the best foundation for good personal hygiene during teenage years.
Parents with honest, open communication with their child will find it easier to discuss personal hygiene problems that occur in teenagers.
Helping Your Autistic Child Understand Hygiene Problems
Autistic children need extra care and help with personal hygiene when they reach adolescence. It is a time when the body changes, which means hygiene habits need to change and adapt, too.
Parents need to help their teenage autistic son to learn how to properly shave. Parents also need to help their teenage autistic daughter to learn how to manage monthly periods, use a tampon or pad, and hygienically dispose it.
It’s also important to explain to autistic teenagers why certain personal hygiene should be done because they will not be able to fully understand social rules, or the reasons behind them.
The Importance of Good Personal Hygiene
Staying healthy physically involves being clean all the time. For example, washing hands, although simple as it is, is an effective and proven way of avoiding sickness and fighting off germs.
Staying healthy socially, also involves being clean all the time. Autistic children can gain confidence if they look and smell presentably well, enabling them to fit in with the crowd.
Teaching Your Autistic Child Proper Personal Hygiene
Teenagers need extra time in the bathroom. They take a bit longer (than normal kids) to accomplish hygiene tasks such as shaving or changing a tampon. Parents can help by giving them more privacy and being patient.
Autistic children need extra support with their personal hygiene, but discussing the subject with them is challenging.
Learning style and ability are factors that need to be considered when thinking of teaching them good personal hygiene habits. It is vital to know how they learn important things in life.
In order for autistic children to easily learn personal hygiene, consider breaking them into small step-by-step tasks. If they are already in the habit of keeping a daily routine, that’s a good thing because it’ll be easier to introduce hygiene.
Writing tasks in a scheduled format can also help autistic children to remember when to do their personal hygiene tasks.