Personal hygiene issues — Scope | Disability forum
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Personal hygiene issues

Emma Member Posts: 85 Connected
edited September 2014 in Autism and neurodiversity
Has anyone got any tips for a parent, who has written to us saying her 17-year-old son has issues with personal hygiene?
She says he won't shower, bath or brush his teeth. Does anyone have any suggestions they can pass on?


  • JimJams
    JimJams Member Posts: 174 Connected
    Get involved with activities that are followed with showers etc, swimming baths , the more he sees other people showering, maybe could help. Pictures of decaying teeth from the dentist, try association with the pictures. My son only started using the shower and wetting his head, mainly because a film he was watching around that time featured this. If he has sensory issues with regard the water, let him use wipes etc as a start, or small damp cloth. Trick him into doing dishes or washing the car , anything to get him tolerating water.
  • BusyOT
    BusyOT Member Posts: 76
    Hello - the reasons for being unwilling to maintain personal care standards are potentially many, including being an adolescent! But some of my thoughts are:
    Is he willing to go swimming? Most personal care tasks are completed at the pool - if he is willing to swim and then shower you can possibly rule out sensory issues.
    Are the tasks simply not interesting enough? Funky facecloths, strong smelling shower gel, electric toothbrush might help.
    Does he need assistance but not want it from him mum? Maybe he now needs a personal assistant.
    Hope this helps - if he is in contact with services the Community Learning Disability Nurse might have further advice. Good luck!
  • Willow
    Willow Member Posts: 18
    Maybe visual aids may help.
    Link in what motivates him eg if chocolate then chocolate scented shower gel
    If relevant maybe a reward chart eg 5 ticks =5 mins TV/ds or just a reward
    Maybe friends/ girlfriends won't be interested angle
    Maybe stress independence/grown up nature may help
    For fun, light up toothbrushes are nice
    Use of timers or 'races' to get it done
  • Loz
    Loz Member Posts: 5 Listener
    I have the same issue with my 17 year old. He is autistic spectrum but doesn't have a sensory issue with water, has never been particularly interested in personal hygiene but has got worse. Speaking to friends with mainstream kids, I find that it is not unusual for teenagers to be reluctant. However, I generally use the carrot and stick approach. In the morning, if he wants money for college, (and he does!) he needs to wash his face, clean his teeth and have a shave if he needs one. In the evening, he bathes rather than showers as he doesn't like the water on his head in the shower. We don't have a problem with getting him in the bath as he enjoys lying in the hot water, but he doesn't want to use any soap or shampoo. He doesn't like scented soaps as he is sensitive to the smell, and he doesn't like getting soap under his fingernails,so now he only uses unscented liquid soap and baby shampoo. We also make sure he keeps his hair short as this makes the task of washing and combing it much easier. We have also found that using a pump action toothpaste is better than the tube as he has difficulty with squeezing the tubes as he is worried about getting toothpaste on his hands.


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