He won't bathe/she won't comb her hair!!!


Well-Known Member
I can't get my son, who is on the autism spectrum, to shower. Yesterday, we were in the car and he was mighty ripe. This after he claimed he'd taken a shower. My daughter and I were almost gagging, although we were trying not to show him. When I brought up that he may need a shower, he said, "I took one. It's my shirt that smells, not me."
That's always possible. He usually takes off his smelly shirts and hangs them back up rather than bringing them down to the washing machine. I don't really 'get' this obsession with hanging up dirty clothes. I am the one who does the laundry, not him. It bugs me that he won't just bring his unwashed clothes downstairs. Sometimes he DOES smell because he puts on dirty shirts. Other times, he just hasn't showered. Yes, we can force her to shower, but it drives me nuts, and it consists of making a big deal about it. My son doesn't care if other people don't like the way he smells.
My daughter is another issue. She hates her hair. As I've said, she is biracial and her hair is more AA than caucasian. She won't wear braids because "they hurt." She won't wear it down, although it looks lovely, because "it's too frizzy." She pulls every inch of her hair back in a ponytail, which cuts her hair. The short little hairs stick out as the day wears on. Her ponytail, which she won't braid, sticks out all over and it looks like she never combs her hair. I've had several mothers kindly offer to do her hair if I can't. How embarassing. Now my daughter is VERY worried about what people think of her, but she truly thinks this is the best way to wear her hair. I've been letting it go because I don't want to make an issue out of it--I know she wishes her hair was long and straight. Should I just leave this issue alone until she decides to do something els with her hair? The rubberbands she uses are eating her hair, but I guess it'll grow back...lol.
As for my son, anyone have an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) child who doesn't care how he smells? The funny thing is, he is uber-sensitive about smells, but doesn't seem to be able to smell himself...lol. I realize there could be worse problems, but my son is a big boy--five foot four and 170 lbs. He sweats a lot.
Open to any/all comments/suggestions on either child.

Mrs Smith

New Member
If your daughter will go to a specialty hair salon, I would get someone there to teach her about her hair type and how to take care of it - even suggest other ways to wear it. Call ahead to explain the situation and find the right person. I know my son takes instruction much better from someone other than me.

I'm not sure where your son is having a problem. We have a house rule about bathing - you can skip a day but not two in a row. I'm not sure what the sticking point is but there's usually a reason and a workaround. Try suggesting sponge baths, washing hair in the sink, showering instead of bathing or vice versa, written instructions for the step-by-step procedure, tweaking the kind of products, using washcloths instead of hands, assisting him, etc.... It's amazing how many small things could be getting in the way. I would put this in Basket B - necessary but worth negotiating the details.

Good luck!


New Member

I'm kinda surprised Nicole isn't more worried about her hair, with her being so socially out there like she is. Most teenage girls I know (my kids have six teenage girl cousins lol) are so particular. If you look at their MySpace pages, they have tons of photos, all with make up on, or hair done, or whatever. I dunno, maybe a salon is a good idea. I bet if she saw one time how great it would look, something really nice like braids, she might get hooked.

As far as Lucas goes, I don't know what to say. I force Dylan to take showers daily, and if he stinks, twice a day. I just ignore the tantrums, because I won't allow him to get into bed smelling, and I won't go out with him smelling. The tantrums used to be pretty bad, but of course, now that he knows I don't care about them and will sit through them, they are very tiny, if at all.

I do still have to watch Dylan shower. He'll go up, wash his hair and get out. Say he did wash, but I know he didn't. I think it's sad I have to watch my 10 year old shower LOL, but this is what I do, or he smells too.

Sorry :frown:

I replied to your email. xoxoxox
We too have the shower problem with difficult child. He does not like the showering process for several reasons that have to do with his numerous sensitivities - the "feel" of the water, the smell of the soap and shampoo, the texture of the towels, etc. etc. I try to accomodate him by finding non-scented products (sometimes it is tough) and purchasing the absolutely thickest, softest Egyptian cotton towels (washed in no scent detergent). This helps, but he always , always has to be reminded.

The rewearing of clothes issue is known to us as well. It always has to do with the "feel" of the clothes. Recently washed clothing sometimes doesn't "feel" as good. I've tried to deal with this one by finding the clothes that "feel" good and buying lots of the same items. He may feel like he is wearing the same thing, and others may too, but he's not! difficult child could care less about what he wears "looks" like - it's all in the "feel".

difficult child also hates the way a comb "feels" in his hair and how a toothbrush "feels" on his teeth. We deal with the hair by keeping it short - the teeth are a whole different area. He got braces two years ago and I was so worried out this enterprise would work out. It has taken enormous work on our part. Now the braces are off and he has retainers to keep up with. (He lost one the first week). Have you read the book "Born on a Blue Day"? The fellow who wrote it is on the spectrum and he discusses his issues with toothbrushing at length. easy child read it too and said -"Now I understand why difficult child doesn't want to brush his teeth"! It was a lightbulb moment for him. True to the suggestion by the fellow in the book we never let up on the teeth. I've really resolved myself to constant reminders in this area, but I'd like to hear of successful techniques from others...


Well-Known Member
Thanks! Well, we do force the bathing, although he's fourteen and I can't watch him. I do smell him when he comes out...lol. Every so often we slip up and he smells. I can only imagine him living on his own one day...he'll never bathe. (Sigh) Just more affirmation that he'll need some sort of assisted living. If he went to work smelling that bad, I bet they'd fire him. Also, thanks for the suggestion about clothes. He DOESN'T like newly washed clothes, and I'll try to ask him if it's the smell, the feel, whatever. I am alarmed that, at his age, he doesn't care about hygiene without our harping on it, but he truly doesn't. When I ask him why he hangs up his smelly shirts he says, "I hate a messy room." LOL, he hates anything on his floor, but he doesn't notice when the room smells of sweat. Truth!
My daughter is a bigger mystery. She does care how she looks--A LOT. In her opinion, her hair is so ugly (I feel so bad for her) that this is the best way she can look--by pulling it all back in a severe ponytail. She likes how she looks in braids, but says they hurt her head so I refuse to pay for a fancy hair salon--she takes out braids. And no she doesn't have Sensory Integration Disorder (SID). I've taken her to visit my AA friends and they've done her hair and she's looking adorable, but she takes it down. I think she really feels bad that she doesn't have "white" hair (sniff). It makes me feel terrible. But she has two cousins who are bi-racial and they use irons and have shown her how to do her hair. She claims the irons "burn" her head. No, she doesn't have Sensory Integration Disorder (SID)...lol. Maybe she just isn't old enough yet to worry about it. She is NOT a defiant, difficult, inflexible kid and is usually very amicable to suggestions, but she's digging her heels in on this one.


New Member
You know, too, MWM, I don't have AA hair, but you've seen my pics. I have naturally VERY curly hair. Actually, people mistake me alot for spanish, etc.

I, myself, cannot stand braids either. And the way AA women do it, they pull your hair, and OUCH :smile: It really does hurt. Maybe it's something you get used to if you start early, I dunno.

Have you tried headbands or clips? Stuff like that. I don't wash my hair every day. Every other. And I use alot of frizz control stuff, like Infusium for frizzy hair, or Pantene frizz control. I dunno how that would be on AA hair. Maybe a relaxer? If you can get some of the frizz out of it, she may like wearing it down more.

I don't ever use a hairdryer either. NEVER!

So, what I do is, I take my shower in the morning, wet my head, towel dry and put the frizz stuff in. Then I don't touch it until it dries.

If her hair dries and is still a bit frizzy, how about putting the sides up with clips? Or getting a headband and pushing those sides and top up?

My hair is white hair, but I understand the frizz part, and it is a PITA.


Well-Known Member
Son already likes girls a little and it hasn't helped...lol. My other kids did suddenly get an interest in hygiene at that time...lol. Lucas is just "different" lol.
My hair is a frizzy mess too.It's also very course, not like AA hair but very thick. In the past I did do the braids. They hurt like he**. I don't blame your daughter a bit.

Since your daughter's hair is ethnic, it probably won't respond to plain old anti-frizz remedies. Has she ever had a relaxer done? I've never done one but I had a friend with bi-racial girls some time ago, and I remember her giving those kids relaxers. Their hair was silky smooth afterwards.

Just an idea!


Mom? What's a difficult child?
I am with Janna and BBK-
I inherited my Mom's Spanish and Portuguese hair!!! It is a ringlet, frizzy, mess if I don't put a ton of leave in conditioner, then a frizz control/mousse/or sometype of gel that will weigh it down!!! Like Janna NO blowdryer. I can't even towel dry or it frizzes it up. I put all of the stuff in, scrunch it with my fingers and hope for the best!!! Mine is lame because I have a few straight peices also... it is pulled back right now!!!
But by the end of the day I have it pulled back... it is just a feeling... it feels better pulled back. Even braided it gets itchy or pulls... I will let it grow long until I can't take it any more... and then whack it off!!! Pixy... has she ever thought of a Halle Berry short cut? I had mine short/short for years, I go back and forth. I will let it grown and then cut it. I love the short it is so easy and cute!!! You said she is very pretty, I bet she could pull it off!!!

I did it to both of my daughters when they couldn't take the brushing. K's hair is straight but sensitive so she had the pixy, loved it. N's hair is pretty curly, not as bad as mine, but fine and tangly, she is sensitive also, chopped it off, loved it!!!

For fun they will brush mine out to get an afro... it is pretty funny the white Mom with the very large afro!!!


Mom? What's a difficult child?
As for the showers... I have friends who still have to nag their husbands to shower!!! Yuck...
K has good days and bad, but she is only 6.
Good luck.


Well-Known Member
Yes, with your permission a salon will professionally straighten the hair - she can not do it alone without permission until she is 16. We took difficult child about 3 times to get it done. Very expensive. The last time we did it she went swimming (against orders) and ruined the whole thing. Never did it again. She does use the straightener and has become quite good at it. She looks lovely with curly and straight hair. Wish my difficult child could show yours - she would absolutely love doing that with your daughter! She has always been great with younger than her kids.


Well-Known Member
I agree ... someone could buy her a special salon gift so it seems more like fun than a forced issue.

We don't bother being nice to my son any more. If he complains that we hurt his feelings, we tell him that he's hurting our noses. :smile:

If it's really bad, I will take away privileges and ground him inside the house until he takes a shower. Then I have to smell him to make sure he really washed. One day he just splashed water on his hair from the sink and he actually fooled me ... for a split second!!! LOL.

Good luck.


Well-Known Member
Hello MWM,
We faced the same issue with our older son. He's 17 and puts up a fight every day about the shower. I think it's to do with hyper-sensitivity in my difficult child's case, as another poster mentioned...the sound of the water, the slimy feel of the soap, even the squeaky noise made by his feet on the bathtub floor. Sigh.
He used to "fake shower" by sticking his hair under the water and pouring a bit of shampoo on his head so the bathroom would be all steamy and he'd smell soapy clean. Until a few hours later, of course, when he'd be smelling like the bear enclosure at the zoo.

What has worked really well for us is a combination of things. Here goes...

1) Shower checklist. I made a list of all of the different parts of the shower (1. Turn on the water. 2 adjust the temperature 3. take off your clothes 4. step under the shower 5. wet your hair...etc) My difficult child has trouble with exeutive function, and needs to have the task broken down for him.

2) Post-shower inspection. My darling SO gives him the "sniff test" after the shower. If he doesn't pass, he has to turn around immediately and go have another one. The first time we did this, he pitched a tantrum and then went and had a proper shower. After 3 days of being forced to take a second shower, he came out of the bathroom on the 4th day and proclaimed. "Hmmm...I was working really hard today, and I'm not sure I did a proper job in there. I'd better go in again, just to make sure." In other words, Mom and Dad aren't going to buy the fake shower, so I'd better go have a real one.

3) Body wash or gel. I got a gigantic bottle of body wash with a pump dispenser at Wal-Mart. It doesn't feel slimy and mushy like the soap, so difficult child is more inclined to use it. I've also found that bubble bath for little kids (Mr. Bubble, for example) works really well. Added bonus, he likes the smell.

As for the dirty clothes thing, our main bathroom has one of those strange laundry hamper pullout things built into the vanity. Since difficult child thinks it's a cool gadget, he actually likes to put his dirty clothes in it. I'm not sure where you get one or if they're easy to install (it was already there when we moved into the house), but it seems to be working for him.

That being said, sometimes our difficult child gets away from us too, and he walks around smelling rotten. I think it's something he'll always struggle with.

With regard to your daughter's hair, here are a few suggestions (I'm mixed race and have very fine, flyaway, corkscrew-curly hair)

1) Do not chemically straighten it. Those chemical straighteners are very harsh and can cause permanent damage to your daughter's hair.

2) Curly hair has a tendency to be dry. I use a shampoo+conditioner to wash, followed by regular conditioner. After that, I use a leave-in moisturizer cream.

3) If your daughter wants to wear pony tails, make sure that she's using coated hair elastics. I buy them in bulk at Wal-Mart. They hold really well and don't snag in your hair. (They break easily though, which is why I buy 40 or so at a time) The moisture cream will help to prevent the breakage at the hairline, and the snagless elastics won't hurt as much.

Hope this all helps.
All the best,


New Member
I love the salon idea, but I do have a suggestion for at home.

My difficult children bio cousin is half AA half white. Her hair was never fixed when we would have her visit. Yes, this is my husbands ex wifes sisters daugher, but we love her and would take her on weekends, before she was taken away from the state and her moms rights were terminated. Oh the gene pool my difficult children came from is lovely, I know!

Anyways, back to her hair. She was just a beautiful little girl, but would come over with an afro and just hated her hair. I had an AA friend who would braid it for her, but she too felt it hurt. So my AA friend recommended baby oil to control the frizz. Its the cheapest way to get the frizz under control. Just put a quarter size in your hands, rub them together then run your fingers and hands through her hair. It gets the frizz under control and she can manage her hair much easier.

I found that I could actually fix her hair almost as easy as my straight hair after the baby oil. Use more oil if you need too, but a quarter size usually did it for her shoulder length hair. I would part it in the middle and twist in from the front down to the back and put bows in it. She was younger, so this probably wouldn't be a preferred hair do for yours, but the baby oil should help manage it.

Every weekend she came to visit I would fix her hair like this and she loved it because it didn't hurt and made her hair soft.

We also used the oil and warm dryed her hair, not hot dry, and it smoothed it out some. We used a round corse brush and a hair dryer and kept the heat on warm. The hot heat was too hot for her scalp. It took more than an hour, but it did straighten and smooth it out without the pain of the heat from a straightening iron.

Hope this helps!

hearts and roses

Mind Reader
My sister has the kinkiest, curliest difficult hair since the day she turned 13! It was always loose and curly, then it got really tight. My mother dragged her to salons all through the 70's and no one knew what to do. Finally, she found someone in the 90's to help her out. She thins it out a bit and my sister spritzes it with Infusium 32 leave in conditioner so it's managable. If she takes care of it this way, her hair flows nice looser soft curls and she's able to pin it back when she wants without it hurting her scalp. The Infusium has been a sanity saver!

As for your son, same problem here with my 17gfg! ForEVER we've had this battle. Even now it continues, boyfriend or no boyfriend! We also have lost all sensitivity in regards to reminding her to shower or bathe. It's gross, I'm sorry, and I just can't stand the stink sometimes. It's not like any other smell I can describe really...it doesn't smell like BO or dirty - I just KNOW that she needs to shower!! Oh, and BRUSH HER DANGED TEETH!! The teeth thing really drives me bonkers. I won't even let her in my car without first making her brush her teeth. I will feel her toothbrush for days on end and KNOW that she hasn't brushed her teeth - is that gross or what?? So, we're not really diplomatic anymore. We state it pretty plainly: "Honey, you smell - go get in the shower and brush your freakin teeth". We have even taken away privileges over this. We've told her no to dates or outings over this. I can't figure out why she is so averse to bathing regularly. It's strange too because once she's taken a shower, she seems to be very happy about being clean so you'd think she'd want to be in there more often. Sorry, no advice, but lots of empathy.


Active Member
We had an issue with clean clothes with difficult child 2. He has horrendous allergies and his skin would "itchy up" every time I did laundry. Downey now makes a softener that is unscented & no dyes which did wonders (he breaks out if I didn't use softener from the "scratchiness" of the clothes). I read that a lot of the hanging up clothes whether dirty or clean is based on routine and watching and learning those routines. I went to a seminar on kids on the spectrum and the gentleman described his son in his first dorm room in college.

They came for parents weekend a couple of weeks into the semester and found their son's closet soaking wet. They had worked all summer reinforcing the way to do laundry and KNEW that he knew how to handle his wash. They walked him through the process at school several times while they were there the weekend before school started to make sure that he knew what to do. Well, when they walked him through at school, they happened to use the same washer and dryer over and over that weekend. Sure enough after they left, about a week later, the dryer broke. He used the same washer and dryer (as he had learned) and took his wet clothes after waiting the hour for the dryer to run, and hung them up. It was routine. It nothing to do with dry clothes, it was the process that you follow with laundry. Your son knows he found the shirt on the hanger and put it back where he found it to begin with! Just a theory! You may have to just examine the process, not the outcome to unravel the mystery.

Take a look at "Social Stories" by Carol Gray. You may have to write a few to get him into a showering/clothing routine and the problem will eventually go away.

Hope this helps!

Otherwise, I understand gas masks have dropped in price! :grin:



Well-Known Member
Thank you all! I'm starting to use a reward system to get my son to shower on his own and he will get a "sniff" test every day before school. If he doesn't pass, his Spec. Ed teacher will make him shower in the school. That's part of "life skills" and I talked to her today. Son is horrified at the thought...lol.

Daughter is a tougher nut. I've been told that it's not good to chemically treat AA hair. Trinity, what about relaxers that say "natural?" I'm getting desperate. What is the best kind of moisturizer for her hair? She is refusing Baby Oil. She thinks that if s he smells at all of Baby Oil the kids will laugh at her.


Well-Known Member
Hello MWM,

I use a hair cream called Motions Pink Lotion (or something like that). It comes in a yellow bottle with purple letters, and the moisturizer is pepto-bismol pink and very gloopy. Be warned...a little bit goes a long way. If you use too much, your daughter's hair will stick to the sides of her head. I use about a Loonie-sized (sorry...Canadian currency...I guess about a Silver Dollar sized) dollop in the palm of my hand and work it through my hair.
In my local Wal-Mart, they carry it in the section with hair products for AA hair (usually on the bottom shelf, covered in dust)

One other thing that you might try. My Grannie taught me this one, and she had the most beautiful curly hair ever. Have your daughter sleep with her hair wrapped in a silk scarf. The friction from a cotton pillow case can cause havoc with curly hair, and the scarf helps to keep moisture in the hair shaft.

Hope this helps. (When I get home, I will check the bottle of hair lotion to make sure that I got the details right.)

Best of luck,


Well-Known Member
My daughter gets her hair from her father. His is like an SOS pad. Hers is just a tad less frizzy. But there was a time when I couldn't get her to wash her face or shower, and the way she used sanitary products are not even something I would want to begin to describe to you.

When she finally found a hair-dresser who flattered her she began to take better care of herself. I hope you can find someone to help her with a styling, who will also make recommendations on how often to shampoo, ("it's easiest to keep this style when you leave this product on in the shower for five minutes every day, yada yada yada") you may find it easier to get her to decide it's something she wants to do on her own. Especially if you take her back to the stylist from time to time.

I think that these things are really a matter of self-esteem. They think no one thinks that they're pretty, so why bother? Your mom has to think that you are pretty, so that doesn't count, right? Let a stylish professional do this for you. It will be well worth it.