Keeping your kids clean is one of the many keys to keeping them happy and healthy. Parents with children on the autism spectrum can find this difficult, however, especially when it comes to bath time. The various smells, slimy textures of the soaps, and sounds echoing in the room can end up leading to sensory overload for a lot of kids on the spectrum. This can lead to meltdowns or a general lack of cooperation, making it challenging to make it through bath time. A few intentional steps can ease this process for both you and your child.
Children on the autism spectrum often become anxious at the sound of the water being poured into the tub. To fix this issue, you can prepare by simply making sure they are in the other room while you prepare the tub for them with the door closed. You can also try hanging extra towels in the bathroom to make noises softer when they are in the tub.
If you find it particularly difficult to keep your child calm in the bathtub, try scheduling a fun, physical activity right before bath time to get rid of that excess energy. This can be something like a game of soccer in the park or something simpler, like an interactive video game. This will also help your child associate the bath time with relaxation or fun.
When you prepare the bath, do what you can to make the environment more calming. If you have a dimmer switch you can make the light softer or, if you don't have a dimmer switch, you can simply let in the light from the hallway. A diffuser with a scent your child finds relaxing will also help make the environment more suitable for your child's needs.
Many parents find rinsing out shampoo a particularly hard step to get by. This is often because the default mindset is to lean the child's head back to rinse off, which can be scary for kids with sensory issues. Try leaning your child's head forward to rinse off or consider the use of a visor and keep the head straight to avoid getting soapy water in the eyes or mouth.
You will have to experiment and get feedback from your child to see what textures they prefer in the bathtub. Some parents find foaming soap to work better than liquid soap, or loofahs to be preferable to washcloths. Each child is different so be sure to try different options and then stick to what works best.
When choosing what soaps and shampoos to use, it's always best to stick to all-natural brands. Many children on the spectrum have sensitivities to certain dyes or chemicals that may be present in popular brands. This simple switch could be a crucial step in helping your child feel comfortable during bath time.
Sensory overload during bath time can be a frustrating hurdle to overcome for a lot of parents. But, by putting these simple steps into practice, experimenting different options, and listening to feedback from your child, you can make bath time a breeze.
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