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How to deal with personal hygiene issues?(3 Posts)
I'm posting this here because we suspect that 15yo dd has many autistic traits, presenting in the classical female way of being 'perfect' outside the home but good by to pieces at home.
Hope I can get some advice why she is behaving this way, and how to support her and encourage her to look after herself better.
Dd is often not washing. Pretty sure she's brushing her teeth, because she has just moved from braces to retainers and the orthodontist is pleased with her dental hygiene. Also, outside home she is a strict rule-follower.
When she goes up to bed, we hear the shower going, but often when we go to give her a kiss goodnight we can feel on her hands that she hasn't washed, and her hair is also bone dry.
Her towel is bone dry.
There have also been skid marks on her knickers, which usually happens several times in a week, but not every week.
And I think she's still afraid of the toilet flush. Or she's in the habit of being afraid.
How to address this?
I can't speak from a parents perspective, but as an autistic girl, I was very similar at that age.
Depending on how easy it is to talk to her at the moment, you could try going over it with her, things like what's the bare minimum she needs to be washing every day/every week and also asking her what she finds difficult. If it's not so easy to talk to her, something I used to do with my mum a lot as a teenager was write little notes back and forth.
I think working out what it is about washing that she's finding hard is important, because then you can come up with ways around it. For me it was a few things, I hated being undressed - because of body dysphoria issues, I hated the feel of wet hair and I felt like it interrupted the flow of whatever I was doing. It could be any of those things with your DD. It could also be sensory issues with the soap/shampoo or if you have a shower, feeling claustrophobic in the enclosed space. Or even just not being able to deal with the sensation of getting wet.
I still do hate all of those things! But I also appreciate I can't go around without washing. So I have ways round it, like working out when is a good time to do it, where it won't feel like it's interrupting my day, either before getting dressed in the morning, or before getting into my pyjamas at nighttime. I have wet wipes on hand (unscented) so if I really can't face a shower I can at least get myself clean. I have really short hair these days, so the hair thing is less of an issue, but that's not an option for everyone.
It might be worth seeing if you can find some shampoos or shower gels she particularly likes? I know some friends of mine on the spectrum are particularly sensitive to smell, so if there's a certain scent that makes them feel relaxed, that can be motivation to wash.
With the toilet flush, I can't really help, I think I was 19 before I stopped running out of the bathroom the second I pushed the flush.
Thanks for your perspective. It's helpful to see it from the inside, IYSWIM.
Some of the things you say really resonate, especially the bit about it interrupting the flow of whatever you were doing. And I like the idea of trying to have the discussion through notes.
Ironically, dd actually loves the feeling of water on her. She and I are very similar in that respect: difficult to get into the water and difficult to get out of it! Though it is generally easier to get dd into water than me. One of the reasons we are so puzzled about this situation.
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