Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

1 Bump

HOw do you teach an autistic child to bathe himself

he is 8 and has not been able to do it. We have tried to teach him and he is verbal and dresses himself. Yet he just can't do this or wash his hair.

Answer Question

Asked by sweetangie79 at 3:45 AM on Jul. 19, 2011 in Kids' Health

Level 18 (5,741 Credits)
Answers (5)
  • A child with Autism just processes things differently, especially sensory information. So when you put them in a highly stimulating enviornment like water, or a noisy room it can make auditory learning much more difficult. Maybe you could try making a picture chart of each step involved in bathing, laminate it (to protect from water) an put it on the wall of the tub. Check the website for pictures. Hope this helps.

    Answer by Kimedbs at 8:37 AM on Jul. 19, 2011

  • We made my son a picture chart and laminated it (with clear contact paper) then posted it in the bathroom. We also used stickers on the bathtub knobs to show him where to turn them for warm water and then we have another laminated schedule posted next to the sink with directions for brushing his teeth/washing his face. He's 13 and verbal, but the picture schedules still help since they are easy. He started doing this about 8 and we would stay in there with him, going step by step pointing to the picture (from outside the shower) and directing him in how to do it and we gradually backed off.

    Answer by missanc at 9:36 AM on Jul. 19, 2011

  • My oldest is 14 and on the spectrum - he is not too fond of bathing. One thing we did was let him pick out his own bath products, and put them in his own 'hygiene bin' in the bathroom- that way he had everything he needed to wash himself, his hair, deodorant, body spray... and since it was 'just his' he did not have to worry about his brothers using it up on him. I also took a colored index card and wrote what steps were involved in washing up. It was a good reminder, and that way he could look at that and make sure he did all he was supposed to do (wash hair, body, put deodorant on...). Now that he is 14 he pretty much has the washing up part down, but I still have to remind him to use the deodorant and body spray some days.

    Answer by MizLee at 1:11 PM on Jul. 19, 2011

  • I'm adding one more suggestion to the helpful ideas that PPs have said: Talk to the Occupational Therapist about desensitization in regards to helping your son to wash his hair. Most children with Autism can't tolerate when someone touches their hair so It becomes difficult to wash their hair. I don't know if this is the case with your son but you mentioned that he won't wash his hair.
    Another thing how does your son with the bathtub. For some reason the bathtub is more soothing than the shower. I would use Epsom Salts for the bathtub. See if your son likes to pour some in the water. Eventually he could transfer to use the shower.

    Answer by Cafemomoftwo217 at 6:44 AM on Jul. 20, 2011

  • The school should be helping with life skills instruction on this as well as other things. My neighbor is going to school for special ed and told me that there are over 100 steps to washing yourself and that's without shampooing. Some kids to find PECS ( Picture Exchange Communication System) to be helpful in remembering all the steps.


    Answer by JSD24 at 10:57 AM on Jul. 25, 2011

Join CafeMom now to contribute your answer and become part of our community. It's free and takes just a minute.