Tips for Halloween for Children with Autism

Tips for Halloween for Children with Autism

Tips for Halloween For Children with Autism

Halloween can be a fun holiday, but for some children and  families Halloween may cause more stress than fun.

We want to try to create a fun halloween for ALL children and to remember we may need to adjust how we approach the holiday.

For some children wearing a halloween costume may not feel good to them or scare them. Try to pick out a costume that your child will enjoy wearing, but if wearing a costume is too overwhelming for your child, don't force them to wear one. You could try to find a t-shirt with a cartoon character they like or have them wear a hat or headband if they can tolerate that.

Tips for Picking out a Halloween Costume

  • Find a texture that your child will be able to tolerate. Try to have them go to the store to try on the costume with you.
  • Try making your own costume out of comfortable clothes you know they like. Such as a soft cotton shirt and sweat pants could be paired with a tail or ears.
  • If they are afraid of wearing a mask, don't make them
  • Find a character that they are motivated by such as a favorite cartoon character or video game character
  • Find a costume that will be okay with the weather wherever you live
  • Provide opportunities for your child to wear the costume ahead of time to help them get used to wearing the costume
  • If your child cannot tolerate a costume, you could try a Halloween themed alternative such as a pumpkin shirt, orange colored shirt, or even a princess shirt.

Talk to your child about Halloween and Trick or Treating ahead of time so they can understand the process. 

One way you can talk to your kids about Halloween and Trick or Treating is through our FREE Trick or Treating Social Story!!

Trick or Treating Social Story

Provide us your name and email address below to download our FREE Trick or Treating Social Story!

Use social stories and pictures to help your child understand why we dress up in costumes and the process for how we complete the steps for Trick or Treating. Also be sure to talk to your child about safety awareness and ways to stay safe with you on Halloween.

If your child has difficulty going house to house find alternatives for them to participate with trick or treating. Maybe they could stay home and help a parent hand out candy to other kids. Maybe they could just go to one house of a family member or a best friend where they feel comfortable to help participate in the experience. If they become overwhelmed with the face to face interactions see if a sibling or friend can collect the candy or items for them. If they are afraid of the dark, see if there are opportunities in your neighborhood where they do trick or treating activities in the day time when it is light outside. See if your local nursing home has a trick or treat night where you can go to an indoor building. You could try practicing and role playing trick or treating at your home ahead of time and create this to be a fun experience for all of your children.

If you are invited to a Halloween party and large crowds are hard for your child maybe you could arrive early when the crowd is small and leave before it gets to be too large and overwhelming for your child. If you notice your child is getting overwhelmed, but can't verbally tell you this help them to leave the situation and take a break. You could try taking a break in your car, or if it is a party where you know the family well, see if they will let you retreat to a quiet room to spend some time alone for a little while.

Ways to keep your child SAFE this Halloween

  • Talk to them about strangers and how to stay with you
  • Tell them about how to contact you if they get separated from you
  • Make a plan ahead of time about what houses you may go to and/or the route you may take
  • Talk to your child about going to houses with their lights on and to houses where they know the people
  • Tell them not to eat candy or food items if they don't know what it is
  • Talk to them about how to go up to the houses and how to talk to the people answering the door
  • Try not to let them run outside and walk with you
  • Teach them about how to look out for cars if you are walking around the neighborhood
  • Talk to your child about a safe word that you come up with ahead of time, so if someone was trying to pick them up, they can ask what is the safe word and if they don't know it then the child can know not to go with them.

In addition you can talk to your child about the different halloween decorations and what sounds they may hear with the decorations. Some decorations make noises when you go up to them and may scare you. Talk to them about how the decoration is not real and will not hurt them. If they can handle it maybe play them different sounds they could hear, such as howls, eerie sounds, or even screams.

Remember not all children will be able to verbally say “trick or treat”. Be patient and allow time for children to answer your questions. If they don't respond to you, don't get mad and instead remain calm and don't raise your voice. Be patient and respectful to all of the children that come to your door.

We would love to hear what your strategies are for helping your child have a fun and safe Halloween! What are strategies you have used with your child to help them have a safe Halloween? Leave us your comments down below!

We wish you all a SAFE and FUN Halloween!! 

Are you looking for more resources?

Check out our post about Halloween Social Situations and download our FREE Social Situation and Problem Solving Cards HERE!

Does your child need help learning personal hygiene self care skills? Check out our first Ebook all about Everyday Life Skills Personal Hygiene Skills in the Bathroom HERE! 

Sensory Issues with Clothing: A Brief Guide for Comfort

Sensory Issues with Clothing: A Brief Guide for Comfort

Use this guide to help you better understand sensory issues with clothing.

Understanding sensory issues with clothing can be quite confusing for many parents and caregivers. However, by having a good grasp of the sensory system and how it affects children is crucial in helping them navigate these challenges. Sensory issues with clothing can be hurdles for children who experience discomfort when wearing certain types of clothes due to their sensory sensitivities. In this article, we will dive into the reasons why kids may have sensory issues with clothing, discuss ways to identify these issues, and explore strategies to help them with dressing skills and making clothing choices.

Creating a supportive environment is key to help a child with sensory clothing issues develop independence and confidence in their dressing skills. By utilizing the appropriate techniques and strategies, caregivers can make a positive impact on their child's daily routine and overall quality of life. With the help of occupational therapy resources, as well as an understanding of the specific clothing sensitivities, you can empower your child to overcome these challenges.

Key Takeaways

  • Sensory issues with clothing can affect children's comfort and independence with dressing.
  • Identifying the specific clothing sensitivities is crucial to provide tailored support.
  • Occupational therapy resources and strategies can help improve dressing skills and clothing choices for children with sensory sensitivities.

*This post may contain affiliate links. There is no extra cost to you, but will greatly help our family. Please read our disclosure for further information.

Why Do Kids Have Sensory Issues with Clothing?

Sometimes, children may experience difficulties with how their clothes feel on their skin. This is due to their sensory processing system, which can affect their comfort with different types of materials, seams, or fits of clothing. Sensitivity to clothing can vary from child to child, with some children being more sensitive to sensory input than others.

Causes of sensory issues with clothing:

  • Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD): Some children may be diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, which can make them more sensitive to sensory input, including the way clothing feels on their skin. Sensory Processing Disorder is a condition where the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses.
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder can also experience sensory challenges, including sensitivity to clothing, as they often have unique sensory processing patterns.
  1. Choose sensory-friendly fabrics: Soft, breathable materials such as cotton and bamboo are generally more comfortable for children with sensory sensitivities. Avoid fabrics with rough textures or irritating tags and seams.
  2. Introduce new clothing gradually: Transition your child to new clothing items by letting them touch and hold the garments before wearing them. This can help familiarize them with the feel and texture of the new clothes.
  3. Create a comfortable routine: Establishing a consistent routine for dressing can help your child feel more at ease with the process. Encourage them to participate in choosing their clothes, discussing their preferences, and expressing any concerns.

Remember, adjusting to your child's sensory needs can take time and patience. Be sure to listen to their concerns and support them in finding clothes that feel comfortable and meet their unique sensory needs.

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Does My Child Have Sensory Issues with Clothing?

If your child frequently complains about the texture, fit, or tags of their clothes, they might be experiencing sensory issues with clothing. Sensory issues can make certain fabrics and clothing items uncomfortable or irritating for your child. It's essential to understand the signs of clothing-related sensory issues and provide them with appropriate clothing options to ensure their comfort and well-being.

Some common signs that your child might have sensory issues with clothing include:

  • Refusing to wear certain types of fabrics or materials
  • Complaining about tags, seams, or other clothing details
  • Frequent meltdowns or distress when getting dressed
  • Insisting on wearing the same clothes repeatedly

You can help your child by addressing these issues in several ways:

  • Encourage communication: Make sure your child knows that it's okay to express their feelings about clothing discomfort.
  • Choose sensory-friendly fabrics: Opt for soft, breathable, and tag-free clothing items, such as sensory-friendly clothes for sensitive kids.
  • Test different clothing items: Let your child experiment with different types of clothes to find what feels most comfortable to them.

Remember, every child is unique, and what may be comfortable for one child might not necessarily work for another. It's crucial to be patient and understanding while working together to find the best clothing solutions for your child's sensory needs.

Child upset trying to get dressed due to clothing sensitivities.

Do Autistic Children Have Increased Sensitivity to Clothing?

As someone caring for an autistic child, you might be wondering about their sensitivity to clothing. Yes, it's quite common for autistic children to have an increased sensitivity to certain fabrics and textures. This is mainly due to their hypersensitivity to touch and other sensory inputs.

Here are some common issues autistic children may face with clothing:

  • Discomfort: Certain materials can cause significant discomfort for autistic children. Finding sensory-friendly clothing that is soft, smooth, and comfortable can considerably ease this issue.
  • Difficulty in understanding social norms: Autistic children may not fully comprehend the importance of dressing appropriately in various settings. It's crucial to patiently teach them social dressing norms to help them navigate through different situations.
  • Resistance to change: Autistic children may resist changing their clothes, especially if they have grown attached to particular garments. Establishing a consistent routine can help them become more comfortable with making changes in their wardrobe.

To address these sensory issues with clothes, consider the following:

  • Opt for clothes made of soft and comfortable materials like cotton.
  • Avoid clothes with tags, seams, and rough textures that may irritate the skin.
  • Choose elastic waistbands and clothes that are easy to put on and take off.
  • Provide a variety of clothing options within their comfort zone to help them adapt to different environments.

By taking into account their needs and preferences, you can make dressing a more enjoyable experience for your autistic child, and help them feel more confident and comfortable in their daily lives.

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Sensory Strategies to Improve Independence with Dressing

Everyone has unique sensory preferences in daily life, and dressing is no exception. For children with autism, getting dressed might be a challenging task. As a caring individual, you can apply sensory strategies to make the dressing process smoother for them.

  • Prioritize comfort: Choose clothes with soft textures and loose-fitting designs. Avoid tight waistbands and rough materials.
  • Establish a sensory diet: Incorporate calming activities such as warm baths, music, or deep pressure input throughout the day to regulate sensory needs.
  • Introduce brushing: A pediatric occupational therapist can guide you through the sensory integration technique known as brushing, which helps reduce tactile defensiveness.
  • Consult an occupational therapist: They can provide tailored guidance based on your child's sensory processing disorder and daily functioning.
  • Enhance motor skills: Encourage activities that improve motor skills and promote independence in dressing, such as buttoning and zipping.
  • Use social stories: Create customized narratives to help your child understand the dressing process and alleviate anxiety or meltdowns.

With these strategies, getting dressed can become a more manageable task for children with autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, or other sensory-related challenges.

Here Are Some Sensory Strategies for Clothing Textures We Found Helpful:

  • Choose sensory-friendly clothing that is soft, smooth, and made of natural materials to minimize irritation.
  • Opt for seamless clothes to avoid itchy and scratchy feeling on the skin.
  • Consider adaptive clothing designed specifically for those with sensory sensitivities, offering comfort and ease of dressing.
  • Invest in comfortable clothing such as loose-fitting or breathable fabrics to reduce hypersensitivity and discomfort.
  • Provide a variety of textures for your child to touch and explore, so they can develop a tolerance towards different clothing materials.
  • Encourage the use of a discreet fidget toy for moments when they need an outlet for sensory sensitivities.
  • Create a calm and positive environment when dressing, fostering a sense of safety and trust in the process.

Specific Clothing Sensitivities


Some people are sensitive to the seams in their clothing. The seams can cause discomfort, itchiness, or even pain for those experiencing sensory issues. To help with this problem, consider looking for seamless clothing or clothes with flat seams to minimize the irritation.

Issues with Socks

Socks can be a source of distress for those with sensory sensitivities due to the texture, tightness, or seams. To address these issues, you can try:

  • Seamless socks
  • Socks made from soft, non-irritating materials
  • Socks with a looser fit to avoid tightness and pressure

Explore various brands and types of socks until you find the ones that work best for your comfort.

Sensitivities to Textures of Clothing

Different materials and textures can cause discomfort for people with sensory issues. Here are some tips to help you navigate the world of clothing textures:

  • Look for clothes made from soft fabrics like cotton or bamboo.
  • Steer clear of materials that are typically itchy, such as wool or synthetic fabrics.
  • Opt for clothes without tags or with removable tags, as they can also cause irritation.

Being mindful of textures when shopping for clothes can help you find items that feel comfortable and don't exacerbate sensory sensitivities. Be patient and be willing to experiment with different materials until you discover what works best for you.

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Weight of Clothing: Choosing Between Heavy and Light Clothes

When considering clothing for children with sensory issues, it's important to be aware of their preferences for clothing weight. Some children may be more comfortable in heavy winter clothes, while others might prefer lighter summer clothes. To accommodate these preferences, you can explore different options like adding or removing layers and trying different textures of clothes that your child prefers.

It's also crucial to think about the materials used in clothing. Natural materials like cotton, bamboo, and wool are breathable and comfortable for many children. Heavy clothing made from natural materials may be more tolerable than synthetic materials like nylon. When selecting clothes, you can opt for breathable fabrics to minimize discomfort.

Other factors to keep in mind include:

  • Deep pressure: Some children might benefit from wearing compression shirts or using weighted blankets to help them feel more secure and less agitated.
  • Layers: Experimenting with layering clothes can help find the right balance between comfort and warmth for your child. Try mixing different fabrics and weights to see what works best.
  • Tightness: While some children might prefer looser clothing, others could find comfort in the snugness of tight clothes. It's essential to identify the right fit for your child.

When shopping for clothes, consider doing so online with retailers that offer free returns. This approach can save you from the stress of trying on clothes in-store and avoid unnecessary meltdowns. Additionally, pay attention to visual and auditory preferences in clothing. Some children might be more willing to wear clothes with favorite colors, characters, or patterns.

Ensure that clothes are easily accessible in your child's room, either by laying them out or placing them in an organized manner in their closet or drawer. If possible, avoid clothing that makes irritating sounds, like buckles or sequins, if it bothers your child.

In summary, it's essential to keep your child's preferences and comfort in mind when selecting clothing. Considering factors like clothing weight, materials, and comfortable textures will help you choose clothes that make the dressing process more manageable and enjoyable for both you and your child.

Strategies to Help with Dressing Skills and Clothing Sensitivities

To support your child's dressing skills and address clothing sensitivities, consider incorporating the following strategies:

  1. Identify preferred textures: Find the fabrics your child likes and avoid ones that cause discomfort. If they need to wear an uncomfortable fabric, have them wear a preferred texture underneath to minimize the unpleasant sensation.
  2. Inside-out clothes: If your child is bothered by seams, let them wear clothes inside out.
  3. Give warmth: Warm up clothes in the dryer before dressing if your child prefers a warm sensation.
  4. Soften clothes: Wash new clothes multiple times to make them softer.
  5. Organize clothes: Label dresser drawers, organize the closet, and use hooks or hangers at eye level to make clothes easily accessible for your child.
  6. Provide visual aids: Create a visual checklist of each dressing step to guide your child.
  7. Rewards system: Set up a rewards chart with stickers so your child can track their progress and work toward a reward for dressing independently.
  8. Incorporate music: Play music or make up a silly song about getting dressed to engage your child.
  9. Use a mirror: Allow your child to visually see how they are getting dressed.
  10. Model behaviors: Show your child how to put on clothes properly by demonstrating the process.
  11. Allow extra time: Avoid rushing by giving your child the necessary time to practice dressing skills, especially during evenings or low-pressure situations.
  12. Discuss processes: Talk about the dressing routine beforehand to make sure your child knows the steps.
  13. Calming activities: Engage in calming activities like massages before dressing.
  14. Deep pressure or heavy work: Practice activities like squeezes, jumping on a trampoline, crab walking, or bear crawling before getting dressed.

For more personalized strategies, consider consulting with a local occupational therapist. If you've discovered specific clothing types that work for your child, share your suggestions in the comments. Enhance your child's personal hygiene skills by exploring resources such as Ebooks on everyday life skills and specialized resources on autism and special needs.

What Clothes are the Best to Help with Sensory Sensitivities?

When dealing with sensory sensitivities, it's important to choose clothes that are comfortable and least likely to cause irritation. Here are some tips to help you select the best clothing options for sensory issues:

  • Fabrics: Opt for soft and natural materials like cotton. Spandex and compression fabrics can also be helpful, especially if your child prefers compression clothing.
  • Seams and tags: Choose clothes with flat seams or no seams at all, as these can cause irritation. It's also a good idea to select tag-free clothing or remove tags from existing clothes.
  • Waistbands: A stretchy waistband can be more comfortable for children with sensory sensitivities. If your child prefers a tighter waistband, make sure it still provides enough flexibility and comfort.
  • Weighted clothing: For some children, weighted clothing can provide a sense of comfort and security. Consider this option if your child responds well to compression clothing.

Remember that every child is different, and their individual preferences may vary. Experimenting with different options will help you find the most comfortable and supportive clothes for your child's specific sensory needs.

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Occupational Therapy Resources for Dressing Skills and Clothing Sensitivity

Here are a few resources that may help you and your child address sensory issues with clothing and develop dressing skills:

  • Sensory-friendly clothing: Search for brands that specifically design clothes with soft materials and minimal seams, or tags that are easily removable. This is important for children who are sensitive to textures and fabric types.
  • Break down dressing tasks: Make dressing manageable by splitting it into small steps and teaching each step independently. For instance, start with pulling a shirt down, then progress towards wearing pants or socks, and finally, fastening buttons. The OT Toolbox's guide on helping kids with sensory issues offers valuable advice.
  • Use a visual schedule: Create a visible plan of action for your child to follow when getting dressed. This ensures a predictable routine and helps alleviate anxiety associated with dressing.
  • Fidget toys: Incorporate fidget toys or sensory activities before dressing. This can help with reducing any sensory sensitivities or stress. You can find several ideas in Children's Community Occupational Therapy Dressing Skills – Sensory (PDF).
  • Occupational Therapy: Work with an occupational therapist who can provide individualized strategies for your child while improving their dressing skills. Occupational therapists can also suggest suitable fine motor skills exercises that can help your child gain more independence with dressing.

By using these resources and working alongside professionals, you can better support your child in developing their dressing skills and managing their clothing sensitivity.

Frequently Asked Questions

What options are available for sensory-friendly clothing for sensitive individuals?

There is a variety of sensory-friendly clothing designed to meet the needs of those with sensitivities. These garments may be tagless, have flat seams, and are made of soft, comfortable materials. You can find them in online stores that specialize in sensory-friendly clothing.

How do sensory issues impact a child's ability to wear certain types of clothing?

Sensory issues may make a child feel uncomfortable or irritated by fabrics, textures, or the fit of their clothes. This can lead to difficulty wearing certain types of clothing, and possibly resistance to wearing clothes in general.

Is there any impact of tight clothing on adults with Sensory Processing Disorder?

Yes, tight clothing can also impact adults with Sensory Processing Disorder. It is essential to consider a person's comfort and sensitivities when choosing clothing, regardless of age, as wearing uncomfortable clothes can exacerbate sensory issues.

What are some symptoms indicative of Sensory Processing Disorder?

Symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder may include:

  • Overreaction to sensory input, such as noises, textures, or lights.
  • Difficulty with coordination and motor skills.
  • Challenges in processing and interpreting information from the senses.
  • Trouble with daily activities due to sensory disruptions.

Can someone have sensory issues with clothing without being on the autism spectrum?

Yes, sensory issues with clothing can occur in individuals who are not on the autism spectrum. Sensory sensitivities may arise from other conditions, such as Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD, or anxiety disorders.

How does occupational therapy help with managing clothing sensitivities?

Occupational therapy can help individuals with clothing sensitivities by:

  • Identifying specific sensory triggers and working on desensitization techniques.
  • Developing strategies for dressing and adapting to uncomfortable clothing.
  • Recommending appropriate sensory-friendly clothing options.
  • Teaching coping mechanisms for dealing with sensory-related anxiety and stress.
Sensory Issues with Clothing, boy trying to get dressed and upset.

31 Sensory Strategies with Dressing for Children with Autism
Sensory Issues with Showering: Solutions and Strategies

Sensory Issues with Showering: Solutions and Strategies

In this post, you will get help with sensory issues with showering by helping you find strategies and resources to help you.

Taking baths and showers can be challenging for some people, particularly when they have difficulty dealing with water touching their face or getting in their eyes. This issue may stem from sensory processing difficulties that cause anxiety and fear in these situations. Overcoming these challenges is crucial to empower independence in a person's self-care routine. In this article, we will explore tips and strategies that have been effective in helping individuals feel more comfortable and at ease while taking baths or showers.

Throughout the years, people have discovered various techniques that enable them to decrease anxiety associated with water on their face. By sharing these approaches, it is hoped that you, or your loved ones, can develop a better understanding of the issue and find ways to overcome the challenges that come with sensory processing difficulties related to hygiene practices.

Key Takeaways

  • Sensory processing difficulties can make bathing and showering uncomfortable for some individuals
  • There are several tips and strategies that can help minimize anxiety and fear related to water and hygiene
  • Increasing independence in self-care routines can be achieved by understanding and addressing sensory issues

*This post may contain affiliate links. There is no extra cost to you, but if you purchase something through our links, this will greatly help our family. Please read more about our disclosure here.

Sensory Issues with Showering and Bathing

When it comes to showering and bathing, some individuals may experience sensory challenges. If you or someone you know has these difficulties, understanding the issues at hand is important. Below, we'll discuss some of the common sensory problems people may encounter during their bathing routine.

  • Water Sensitivity: For some, the sensation of water hitting the skin can be overwhelming, causing anxiety. A rain showerhead may help by distributing water more gently on the skin.
  • Temperature: Finding the right water temperature is crucial, as some people may be particularly sensitive to hot or cold water.
  • Touch: Items like bath sponges, towels, or even soap may cause discomfort due to their texture. It's often helpful to try various products to find the one that suits your needs best.
  • Sound: The noise from running water can be bothersome to some. To alleviate this issue, consider using background noise, such as soft music or white noise machines, to mask the sound.
  • Smell: Scented bath products can be overwhelming for those with sensory sensitivities. Opt for fragrance-free options to minimize this issue.

By understanding these sensory challenges and implementing strategies, you can create a more comfortable showering and bathing experience for yourself or others who may be facing similar difficulties.

What are Common Sensory Issues with Showering and Bathing?

Showering and bathing can sometimes be challenging for individuals with sensory sensitivities. Here is a list of common sensory issues that might occur during showering and bathing:

  • Water Temperature: Sudden changes in water temperature or water that is too hot or too cold can cause discomfort.
  • Water Pressure: High water pressure can feel overwhelming, while low pressure might not provide enough stimulation for some individuals.
  • Sound: The noise of the running water or the echo in the bathroom can lead to auditory sensitivities.
  • Light: Bright bathroom lights or the glare from wet surfaces can create visual sensitivities.
  • Touch: The sensation of water hitting the skin, slippery surfaces, or the texture of bath products might cause tactile sensitivities.

To help individuals with sensory issues, try these strategies:

  • Gradually introduce changes in water temperature and pressure.
  • Use a showerhead with adjustable pressure to suit personal preferences.
  • Consider using a white noise machine or calming music to help mask bathroom sounds.
  • Adjust the lighting in the bathroom, or use dimmable lights for optimal comfort.
  • Offer them gentle bath products and soft washcloths to minimize tactile sensitivities.

By understanding these issues and making small adjustments, you can help make showering and bathing a more enjoyable experience for those with sensory sensitivities.

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Why Does My Child Have Sensory Issues with Showering and Bathing?

Sensory issues with showering and bathing can be a common concern for children who have sensory processing difficulties or are on the autism spectrum. Here's what might be causing these challenges:

  • Water temperature: Some children are more sensitive to temperature, so even a slight difference in water temperature can cause discomfort.
  • Water pressure: High water pressure can be overwhelming or uncomfortable for a child who struggles with sensory processing.
  • Unexpected sensations: Getting wet or feeling water running down their face and body may be unexpected and distressing for children with sensory issues.
  • Sounds: Loud or sudden noises, like the sound of running water or a fan, can be startling or overwhelming for children sensitive to auditory stimuli.

To help your child with sensory issues around showering and bathing, consider the following strategies:

  • Create a predictable routine around bath or shower time, so your child knows what to expect and can better prepare for the sensations involved1.
  • Adjust the water temperature and pressure to better suit your child's preferences2.
  • Offer distractions, such as toys or calming music, to help your child focus on something other than the sensory aspects of bathing3.
  • Be patient and listen to your child's concerns or fears. Encourage them to communicate their feelings and take it one step at a time. Work together to find a solution that works best for them and ensures they feel comfortable and safe during bath time4.

Remember that each child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Keep trying different approaches to find the most effective solution for your child.

shower on in the bathroom


  1. Sensory Processing Hub 
  2. Tips to Improve Showering and Bathing for Children with Sensory Processing Difficulties 
  3. Simple Ways to Make Bath Time a Splash with Sensory Issues 
  4. Autism and Showering: How to Help Your Child 

How Can I Help Make Showering Easier for Them?

Showering can be a challenging experience for individuals with sensory issues. Here are some friendly tips on how you can make the showering process easier and more comfortable for them.

  • Adjust the water temperature: Finding the right water temperature is essential. Test the water before they step in and adjust it to a comfortable, warm temperature that isn't too hot or too cold.
  • Use a handheld showerhead: A handheld showerhead can provide more control over water pressure and direction. This can reduce feelings of overwhelm for individuals with sensory issues.
  • Create a calming environment: Choose soft lighting and play soothing music or nature sounds to help set a relaxing atmosphere during shower time.
  • Introduce sensory-friendly products: Use mild, unscented soaps and shampoos that won't irritate their skin or senses. You can find sensory-friendly showering products designed for individuals with sensory issues.
  • Offer a soft, non-slip bath mat: A cushioned, non-slip bath mat can provide additional comfort and safety during showering.
  • Gradually introduce new sensations: Introduce textures, scents, and water pressures gradually to help them become more comfortable with the whole showering experience.
  • Develop a routine: Establish a predictable sequence of steps for showering so they know what to expect each time. Consistency can make the process more manageable.

By implementing these tips, you can help make showering a more pleasant experience for individuals with sensory issues and promote a positive approach to personal hygiene. Remember to be patient and understanding as they adapt to these changes.

Strategies to Help with Sensory Issues for Showering and Bathing

Ways to Reduce Anxiety When Water Touches a Child's Face with Sensory Processing Difficulties

  • Gradually introduce water to the face by using a wet washcloth
  • Allow the child to control the amount of water on their face by using a spray bottle
  • Use a fun shower visor to prevent water from getting in their eyes

Techniques to Assist with Water on the Face

  • Practice blowing bubbles in a bowl of water to help the child become more comfortable with water on their face
  • Encourage the child to close their eyes and slowly lower their face into the water in a controlled manner
  • Praise the child for any progress they make in tolerating water on their face

Gradual Desensitization for Fear of Water on the Face

  • Start by placing a small amount of water on the child's face and gradually increase as they become more comfortable
  • Introduce water play activities outside of the bathroom to create a more relaxed environment

Tips to Manage Shower and Bathroom Temperatures

  • Ensure the bathroom is warm enough to avoid discomfort
  • Use a thermometer to gauge water temperature and adjust accordingly
  • Allow the child to feel the water before getting in to build their trust with temperature

Guidance for Washing the Body and Hair

  • Offer textured washcloths and brushes to provide a variety of sensory experiences
  • Use a handheld showerhead to give the child control over the direction of the water flow
  • Use gentle, unscented products to avoid irritation
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Ways to Teach Face Washing Independently

  • Guide the child's hand through the process, demonstrating the sequence of washing, rinsing, and drying
  • Use visual aids or a social story to explain the steps in a friendly manner
  • Encourage the child to practice the steps with minimal assistance

Methods to Encourage Independent Showering

  • Create a visual schedule with pictures and simple instructions for the shower routine
  • Gradually reduce the level of assistance provided as the child builds their showering skills
  • Praise each successful step the child takes towards independence

Dry Off Techniques

  • Offer a variety of towel textures and let the child choose their preference
  • Encourage the child to pat their body dry first before using a towel to remove any excess water

Steps to Simplify the Shower or Bath Process

  • Break down the process into smaller, manageable steps using visual aids or social stories
  • Use a timer or a favorite song to help the child understand the length of shower time
  • Encourage independence by promoting self-care practices, such as turning faucets on and off and applying shampoo

Additional Anxiety-Reducing Approaches

  • Dim the lights to create a calming atmosphere
  • Play soft, gentle music to help relax the child
  • Allocate a designated, consistent time each day for showering or bathing to create a comfortable routine

Evidence-Based Resources to Help with Sensory Issues and Showering

Facing sensory challenges while showering can be overwhelming, but luckily there are evidence-based resources and strategies to help you out. Here are some helpful ideas to improve your showering experience:

  • Visual supports: Make use of visual aids, such as picture schedules or social stories, to provide a clear understanding of the showering process.
  • Adjust water temperature: Sensitivity to water temperature is common in individuals with sensory issues. Adjusting the water temperature to a comfortable level can help reduce anxiety.
  • Use calming lighting: Bright lights can contribute to sensory overload. Try using dimmer lights, setting up colored lights, or even using glow sticks to create a more calming atmosphere in the bathroom.
  • Reduce noise: Consider using a showerhead with a more controlled flow or lower pressure. You can also try adding soft background music or white noise to help counteract the sound of the water.
  • Choose appropriate shower products: Select gentle, fragrance-free soaps and shampoos designed for sensitive skin to minimize potential irritants.
  • Start with small adjustments: If showering is overwhelming, start with small steps. You can use a washcloth to gently wipe your body, gradually adding more water and eventually adjusting the flow of the showerhead.

By incorporating these helpful strategies and resources into your shower routine, you can create a more relaxed and comfortable showering experience for yourself. Remember, take it one step at a time and be patient as you find what works best for you.

Resources to Help with Sensory Issues and Showering

To address sensory challenges during showering, there are various resources and techniques that can help. Here are some useful tips and tools to assist you in creating a more comfortable showering experience:

  • Create a calming environment: Use dim lighting or LED color-changing lights to modify the shower atmosphere. Soft music or white noise can also help drown out potentially overwhelming water sounds.
  • Visual schedules: For individuals with autism or sensory processing difficulties, visual supports such as picture schedules or social stories can clarify and ease the showering process.
  • Water temperature: Adjusting the shower's water temperature to a comfortable level can reduce anxiety associated with sensory triggers.
  • Gentle water flow: Switch to a showerhead with adjustable pressure, so you can use a gentle water flow that's soothing rather than overwhelming.
  • Non-slip bath mats: For people with postural or motor planning difficulties, non-slip bath mats can improve stability and reduce anxiety caused by slippery shower surfaces.
  • Fun bath accessories: Incorporate playful shower toys, themed shower curtains, or colorful sponges to help make bath time more enjoyable and less stressful.

Remember, the key is to identify sensory triggers, adapt the environment accordingly, and implement resources to create a more positive showering experience.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How can autistic adults create a comfortable shower routine?

To establish a comfortable shower routine, it's essential to consider unique sensory needs. You can create a sensory-friendly environment by using soft lighting, adding familiar and preferred towels and bath products, and incorporating calming elements such as scented candles or essential oils. Gradually introduce a routine and stick to it, ensuring that all steps are understood and manageable.

What strategies help manage sensory processing disorder during hygiene activities?

For individuals with sensory processing disorder, consider the following strategies:

  • Make gradual changes to routines, allowing time for adaptation.
  • Use noise-dampening materials or quieter showerheads to reduce the sound of running water.
  • Introduce alternative cleaning methods, such as using a washcloth or sponge instead of direct water contact.
  • Provide positive reinforcement and rewards for successful completion of hygiene tasks.

Which showerheads are suitable for those with sensory sensitivities?

Consider using quieter showerheads that disperse water gently to reduce sensory overload. Additionally, showerheads with adjustable flow settings can help individuals find the most comfortable water pressure for their needs.

How can one cope with discomfort from water on the face?

To cope with water discomfort, try the following:

  • Use a washcloth or sponge to gently clean your face.
  • Close your eyes and cover your nose and mouth when rinsing.
  • Practice breathing exercises to remain calm during face rinsing.

Is soap sensitivity common, and what can be done about it?

Sensory issues with soap can be common. To overcome this:

  • Experiment with different soap textures, such as liquid, bar, or foam soaps.
  • Dilute soap with water to lessen its impact.
  • Opt for fragrance-free and hypoallergenic products to reduce irritation.

How can showering be made a more enjoyable experience for those with sensory preferences?

Some techniques to enhance the showering experience include:

  • Adding soothing music or white noise to mask the sound of running water.
  • Using soft, non-abrasive bathing items like silicone brushes or sponges.
  • Introducing aromatherapy with essential oils or choosing mild-scented bath products.
  • Customizing the water temperature to match individual preferences.

How we Helped My Brother with Sensory Sensitivities with Showering and Bathing

My brother has always had a difficult time with taking baths and showers because he hated having water get on his face or in his eyes. Don't get me wrong he loved being in the water, but as soon as he would be splashed in the face in the pool or we would have to go to wash his hair in the bath, a flood of anxiety and fear would come over him. He has had this difficulty ever since he was little and he is still learning to decrease his anxiety with water on his face. It wasn't until this year that he has now been able to wash his face and hair more independently (14 years later). We wanted to share the tips and tricks that we have used to help my brother decrease his anxiety with water getting on his face to allow him to be more independent with these skills.

Tips to Decrease Anxiety with Water Getting on the Face for a Child with Sensory Processing Difficulties

What we did first was recognize this was a fear for my brother and we were always patient and understanding with him. Something that my mother has been working on this past year with my brother is working on identifying what his fears are and understanding that fear is an emotion. These emotions can come from what you are thinking, and they have been working on changing his thinking to a positive thought to help him create a solution. So for example, before taking a shower or washing his face at the sink they would state positive statements about putting water on his face. They would say, “I will be able to get my face wet or I am calm and I can do this.”

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These were ways that we were slowly able to decrease fear for my brother with getting water on his face.

He was very motivated to go swimming, so during the summer we were constantly at the pool, going to water parks, or playing outside in the sprinkler. He was usually having so much fun during these activities that when he would get water on his face we would always make sure we had a beach towel near by or he would wear a swim shirt that he could use to help wipe off the water on his face to help decrease his anxiety. We were constantly exposing him to activities that were motivating to him where he would be exposed to water on his body.

Other fun ways we would expose him to water were through water balloon fights and using a bubble machine outside with bubbles popping around him. Again, we would always have a towel near by him, but during the activities he was happy and excited having fun!

When we were swimming in the pool, we would constantly be trying to teach him how to hold his breath or blow out of his nose when he would go under water. As well as closing his eyes under water. We would play games to help motivate him to make it more fun. We would always demonstrate for him so he could see how to do it. We would try to make it motivating and be super excited over the top if just the littlest bit of his face touch the water such as his chin. We would give tons and tons of praise and encouragement.

It took us many many years for him to be more comfortable with getting his face wet in the pool, but we never gave up. Even today he still does not prefer to go underwater and we are still working on learning how to swim, but every year we are making progress. We learn to celebrate every little victory along the way.

Now this year, we have been working really hard with being independent with showering and washing our face. Now that we are going through puberty we also get to work on these skills to help us prevent breakouts. We started a new acne medicine for our face this year, so that has also helped increase the motivation for my brother to want to learn the skill so he can decrease the acne. My mother has learned to be so patient with him in helping him learn these skills.

These are ways that we have helped him learn to wash his face on his own:

  • He used a face mist blower (something he liked) to help him get used to the feeling of water on his face.
  • He would wash his face at the sink with just a wet wash cloth (my mother would have to do it first, then she would have him slowly increase his ability to use the wash cloth himself)
  • They slowly increased splashing water on his face by getting his hands wet and having him touch his face then slowly add more water over time.
  • Finally, they had him get in the shower and use a wash cloth in the shower to wash his face.
  • NOTE: He would always have a dry wash cloth or towel right next to him so that he could dry his face off if it was too much for him.
  • This was a very long process and took a lot of patience and practice. We think it went better for him this year because he was motivated to get rid of the acne on his face.

These are ways that we helped him learn to shower more independently:

  • In the beginning my mom would be in the bathroom and available for him if he needed anything, this helped to decrease the anxiety.
  • We first talked about the importance of why we need to take a shower and how we need to smell good when we are around other people. This was the first year that he has ever mentioned that he wants to get married (over the past two years my sister and I both got married and he realized that he would need to get married if he wants to carry our families last name). So my mom would make sure to talk about how if he wants to get a girl friend he needs to smell nice and this has been motivating to him.
  • When they were at the dermatologist, my mother had the doctor explain the importance of showering and washing our face to him, which had a bigger impact on him then my mom telling him that. He seems to do well with taking advice from doctors.
  • While my brother was taking the shower there was always a towel available hanging over the edge of the shower.
  • To wash his hair, my mom would use a large cup and place a was cloth over his face and he would tilt his head back and let my mom wash his hair for him. They would slowly transition away from this by having him participate more with washing his hair and having him do more of it on his own, such as having him put the shampoo in or slowly pour some water on his head.
  • Washing his hair is something he has always had a really hard time with and he still needs help at times from my mom to help him, but he is doing so much more of it on his own! He will be doing it on his own in no time!
  • Also they learned that he does better with taking a shower night before going to bed as the warm water helps him go to sleep. Try to figure out the best time of day that works for your child.

Here are some other strategies that we have used over the years to help decrease anxiety as well:

  • Installing a “rain” shower head
  • Installing a handheld shower nozzle to give him a sense of control
  • Sometimes we would just take a bath
  • Warm up the bathroom ahead of time to make the temperature change less dramatic
  • Play music while in the shower or bath for fun and a distraction
  • Have fun bath toys in the shower or bath tub
  • Mr. Bubbles foam soap for fun in the bath
  • Using a schedule and sticking to it. When we figured out a night time routine worked well we have been sticking with it.
  • We would sometimes use baby wipes to help clean off at times
  • We have heard dry shampoo can be helpful
  • When we used a wash cloth or shampooing his hair we tried to use slow deep pressure. Slow deep pressure is more organizing than light touch.
  • Finding soap products that they like (some kids prefer scents and some prefer no scents) Allow them to participate in picking out the soaps to give them more independence.
  • Use motivators whenever possible. We were constantly trying to figure out what motivated my brother to help make it more fun and turn it into a goal that he wanted to meet!

We hope that these tips and suggestions can be helpful for you and your family to help make bathing a better routine for everyone. As a family we are always working on this skill and taking it day by day and celebrating every little victory. We would love to learn if you have more suggestions that have worked for your family!

Does your child or teen struggle with personal hygiene skills due to sensory challenges?

Check out our free Personal Hygiene Sensory Strategies Toolkit for help!

Personal Hygiene Sensory Strategies Toolkit #sensory
Showering and Bathing Tips for Children with Sensory Processing Difficulties

Does your child have difficulty learning personal hygiene self care skills? Check out our Ebook Everyday Life Skills Personal Hygiene Skills in the Bathroom for TONS of tips and resources to help your loved one become more independent with these skills!