If you have ever met an autistic child, you know that there are things just a little different. Well hygiene is one that a lot of people on the outside don’t understand. These kids just don’t think about those things. In fact, most will shy away from “body parts” whether talking about it or touching “those” things.
My daughter has a few that keep getting her so it’s My job to take care of it. She doesn’t like to scrub in the shower or in the morning. It’s like, even with a washcloth, she is touching something horrible and scary. Her neck will turn black if I don’t catch her. I actually have to grab her and scrub her neck for her. I keep telling her to do it but after a while it is REALLY gross. Once I had to use nail polish remover to get it off before I truly understood that “touching” was a thing. I shudder to think what yuck is under her clothes as she freaks when I try to talk to her about scrubbing “That.” She pitches a screaming fit when I try to do it for her. So I sneak peeks when she is in the shower to see if I see anything, then stay in the bathroom and badger her until I see her wash.
Drying her body coming out of the shower is Never going to happen. There is always a trail of water where she just walks strait out. She wraps the towel around her to cover herself then wraps her hair in the towel. Her pajamas are usually stuck to her and her neck is dripping. Sigh.
Then there is using deodorant, which she REALLY needs. She has had the same stick for well over a year. When I can get her to actually use it, I am honestly not sure if it touches her skin. If it does, well she certainly isn’t putting on enough.
As far as underclothes, well, I have come up with some interesting ways to discuss them. “Did you put on a fresh pair of..(head gesture) you know?” Which is ussually met with a drawling, “yyyyeeeeeessssss.” And then I ask to see them. I won’t even begin to discuss female monthly hygiene. Suffice to say that I am buying her new underwear every few months because they just vanish. I hope to the trash can but I havn’t found any surprises as of yet.
Teeth brushing is also an issue. I got her an electric toothbrush because it will clean better even if she does a half way job. But I think the buzzing bothers her. She has a manual toothbrush but her front teeth are often still scummy when she is done. Also the mint toothpaste, well she won’t even put it in her mouth. So now we have kids toothpaste that is fruit flavored. Unfortunately she has chosen and apple flavored one currently that does not have fluoride in it. It is for babies. I admit the mint toothpaste is awful so I got blue raspberry, which has fluoride. But because I chose it, she won’t use it. That is the teenager part, which makes things even MORE fun.
One you probably didn’t think about is Nails. Both fingernails and toenails. She inherited my Grandmothers nails and stole My lashes to be sure. I am jealous of how string her nails are. I am not exaggerating when I say I just cut off an inch off every finger for her and they are still an inch long. They are curling!!! And her toenails are cutting holes in her shoes. That is going to be a battle here shortly. They are so long that when I clip them, if the piece I cut off goes flying, I wear shoes until I find it. Its like stepping on thumbtacks! And that is so bad when she is a dancer. It is so bad that when I took her to the pointe shoe fitter because she couldn’t get her shoes on any more, the lady said not to bring her back until she cut her toenails. You can imagine the shoes fit fine again after I cut them for her. I think that is why she didn’t want to do pointe anymore. Sad mama.
As for clothes in general, I have given up on her putting her clothes away. They will never get folded and I am tired of buying her socks ever 2 weeks. When I pull her clothes out to put them away, I count her socks and roll them together for her. When I don’t find however many pairs or I only find 1, I have to go searching. They are usually rolled inside out UNDER the laundry basket or stuff somewhere inside a shoe or up in her loft. Ever couple of months I make her completely empty her loft so I can get her clothes back. If I didn’t watch so closely, she would wear the same pants all week and the same socks, if any at all. I have to take her PJs away from her when she is not home so I can wash them. She becomes attached to 1 set and won’t change out. If I ask her to, oh yes that teenager comes out again, so I just take them.
Mom’s job is everything. But when you have an autistic child, that work detail expands to include things you never thought about. Some of it annoys me now and then, and some of it is awkward. But its my job. I’m Mom and I love her so much