*Learn about these sensory friendly autism showering products to help make showering easier for them and improve their quality of life and independence.
The body odor and greasy matted hair show your teenager has gone days without showering. Again. Cringing, you brace yourself for the dreaded battle if you dare intervene. But if you don’t speak up? You worry your teen will sit alone in the cafeteria or be ridiculed by cruel peers. You need to figure out a way to help them care for their body.
The teenage years bring about a lot of changes and new experiences and one big change is going through puberty and having an understanding of changes occuring in the body.
Not all autistic teens will have difficulty with personal hygiene care skills, but for some it can bring on new stress and anxiety with learning a new self care routine or how to care for their body in a different way. They may have difficulty understanding why these changes are happening or some of the social situations as to why they need to make these changes.
Why Taking a Shower May be Difficult for Them
Sensory Sensitivities to the feeling of water on their body and feeling wet
Difficulty understanding why we need to shower
Being dirty and having oily hair doesn’t bother them
The change in temperature of getting in the shower may bother them
They may have difficulty with balance and coordination with standing in the water
Getting dressed after showering their skin may feel like it hurts
Taking a shower takes so much energy
Taking a shower is sensory overload
The smells of the shampoo, conditioner, body wash
There are a lot of reasons why taking a shower may be hard for them… Just be willing to listen to them and work together to help them figure out how to take a shower.
What can you do to help?
Have an understanding and patience that this skill is hard for them. Be there to support them and help find ways that work for them to learn the skill.
I have put together a list of products that may help you adapt how to take a shower in order to make it a little easier for them.
Use these Sensory Friendly Autism Showering Products to help make Showering Easier
*This post contains affiliate links. There is no extra cost to you, but if you purchase through our link we will receive a comission.
Take a look at these sensory friendly autism showering products to help make showering easier for them and improve their quality of life.
A shower dispenser for the soap can help make it easier to get the soap out to use. They just have to push a button to get the soap out and this may help them identify better between body wash, shampoo, and conditioner.
A color changing shower headfor the correct water temperature. This may be helpful for someone who has difficulty regulating the temperature of the water on their own.
Color changing smart light that is color coded with the color lables on the soap dispenser. You can set up the color chaning smart light to be the same colors as the color labels on the soap dispenser and set each color for a certain amount of time. This will give an additional visual cue as to when to go to the next step. This way they aren’t standing under the shower for a long time without washing their body and letting the water get cold.
Swim Goggles may be helpful for someone who has difficulty getting their eyes wet while in the shower.
Ear plugs may be helpful for someone with sensitivity to the sounds in the shower.
A reclinging hair salon chair may be helpful to set up at a sink to wash their hair if they have difficulty washing their hair by themselves in the shower. Especially if they are older and are wanting more privacy in the shower.
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These are additional ideas that are helpful for in between showers to help keep their body clean.
In this bundle, I give you tons of practical tools and resources to help you teach your teen or young adult how to shower. I give you specific strategies to teach each step of taking a shower, sensory adaptaitons, how to set up the bathroom for success, and TONS of tools to help you teach the skill. I use real life pictures of teen boys or teen girls to help them have a visual for each step.
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.
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?
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.
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
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:
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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Click HERE or on the image below to get the FREE Life Skills Curriculum Year at a Glance Plan full of teaching ideas for each month!
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.”
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:
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?
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