Ideas for Helping Son with Hygiene

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by missmommy, Jan 28, 2017.

  1. missmommy

    missmommy Member

    Son is 13, diagnosed ADHD/anxiety. On several medications including Vyvanse and Zoloft.

    Likes bathing. Likes to soak in super hot water. Often does not use soap or wash his hair. Smells WORSE when he leaves the tub than when he got in. Tends to get into things in the bathroom, makes a huge mess and sometimes bothers other peoples' things and products.

    The truth is, he smells awful a good bit of the time. I have tried buying him his own items such as AXE and things made for "men" as he does live in a house of only women. I find them unopened, unused. I have even helped him a few times to wash his hair properly and advised him when he's done to rinse off with the handheld shower especially if he's been sitting in super hot water which is like a sauna.

    Is this a battle I should bother with? I thought he'd outgrow it but it seems to be a real issue for him. And others. My mom complains about it and hates when he rides in her car because of how bad he smells.
  2. PiscesMom

    PiscesMom Active Member

    My daughter resists taking showers. Her teacher even mentioned to me that she needs to shower more regularly. I front load first (you have to w autism it seems), then shut off internet if she doesn't. I regularly fall for "I will shower in the morning" promise but usually she is too anxious the next day for school to follow thru.

    Does he respond to checklists? Wash hair, then ears...After shower, dry off. Hang up towel, put on pajamas, etc.

    Yes, he has to shower. What possible benefit is it to let him behave in a way that repels others? If it feels too much like a battle, change tactics maybe, but persist.

    Oh, that reminds me. Once we were arguing about her shower, and I said But we agreed every other day. Suddenly she stopped fighting and looked at me, amazed. Mom, you're right! She immediately showered, and laughingly apologized later.

    In my experience, autistic people need structure and concrete logic. Not that I'm good at it or anything... :/
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My autistic spectrum son had similar issues. I talked to that wonderful teacher. She actually had a shower off her room, and every school has showers somewhere so maybe this could be tried. We decided that she gently suggest out of the earshot of his peers that if he didn't want to shower at home maybe he would like to do it there, in her shower. She said she'd be happy to let him do it at school.

    My son has never been defiant and the teacher said she almost laughed at the way his jaw dropped. Then, in his quiet, polite voice, he said, " thank you for the offer, but I would rather do it at home, okay?" She nodded.

    We had no problem after that at least getting him in the shower after that, although he is intolerant of the splattering water and we had to get him odorless soap as he can't tolerate soapy smell so I'm sure he didn't always shower completely. But he got much better. And we always made him change his clothes if he put on a stinky shirt before school. He'd say, " but I did change. I didn't wear it yesterday." And we'd say,"That one needs to be washed. Can you wear a shirt that you did in your last Sunday's laundry?"

    I wonder if the know how bad they smell lol. These days my son has two part one jobs and knows he can't smell. It's almost normal :) Have faith.
  4. missmommy

    missmommy Member

    Where do I sign up for a wonderful teacher? My son's told me it's too hard for her to even send home a note about his behavior each day. She has 7 students lol. Maybe she'd have time to line them all up against a wall and turn the hose on them.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    She sounds difficult herself lol.

    There are good, medium, and lacking in every field. Check schools all over. Talk to the Special Education teachers. See who will work with you.

    My advocate, who was important in our journey, knew the area and what schools to look at. I was not as aware as she, but of course as an area advocate she knew every single teacher in all the area schools. And she came with hub and me to all school meetings. Nobody tried to pull a fast one on us when she was sitting there. Haha. We sure got our IEPs with no trouble. Nobody wanted to mess with pur advocate although they were willing to mess woth us before we had her. Our advocate was an area mom with a child in a wheel chair with cerebral palsy and she didn't put up with anything.

    She brought a school district to court and won. An advocate knows all the state laws and forces schools to comply. Or it's court and none want to go to court especially if they know they will lose. The advocates are in close touch with the Dept.bof Public Education in the state and they can do an investigation. But it has to be a public school.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2017
  6. missmommy

    missmommy Member

    I am going to call Monday about an advocate for him!
    • Like Like x 1
    • Winner Winner x 1
    • List
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    My son had HORRIBLE hygiene. It is one of the things that the psychiatric hospital he stayed in when he was 12 worked on. They had a list of steps for taking a shower. Every single step from taking off your shirt and turning on the water to turning off the water and drying off and putting your shirt back on. The kids had to do every step or they had to start at the beginning and do it all over again. One staff member watched the patient and another watched the staff member from the hallway to make sure the staff never touched the patient or did anything inappropriate. The patient wore a swimsuit during these lessons to protect modesty.

    One day my son even broke their record by having to start over 10 times. I had to laugh as I read that in the files I got after he was released. It worked though, he never fought us that hard over getting clean again. I have a very strong sense of smell and having someone very stinky around me really bothers me, in fact it often gives me a migraine. So constantly fighting to get Wiz clean was not fun.

    Your son may not like those 'Men's' products. Honestly, they smell atrocious to me. Many of them are so strongly scented that they are worse than not bathing. He may actually prefer an unscented soap or even a baby soap or lavendar or other natural scented soap. My brother uses Dr Bronner's Peppermint Soap on everything in his home. He dilutes it and a bottle lasts a very long time. It is a natural castile soap and is very gentle.

    Your son may also have sensory issues with some aspect of bathing. It may be that the feel of the liquid soaps bothers him, they feel slimy or slippery to him and this feels somehow wrong or bad to him. This is not at all uncommon. I once was in an Autism Parents Group and more than half of the parents had children with problems with bathing that were directly due to some sensory issue with soap. One father had a 30 year old daughter in a supported living situation who came home 3 days a week to visit and he washed her hair for her on those visits because she just could not handle the feel of the shampoo. He said it was a little thing for him and a big thing for her. It made her feel pretty and clean and took about ten minutes. I am NOT saying to wash his hair for him. I am saying to work to figure out what his problem with using soap is and then overcome it.

    My mom has a saying "Physical solutions to physical problems". Sometimes we see a problem and don't realize that it is a physical problem. Like the bad hygiene might be a physical problem that your son has with the feel or smell of the soap. You could get him a shampoo that comes in a bar form if the liquid shampoo just feels awful to him. Or get one with no odor or low odor rather than Axe or the Mens products. Natural groceries like Sprouts often have unscented products - I knows because I am so highly sensitive to scent that if we don't use unscented products I get migraines. It is hard to find unscented things at some stores.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  8. missmommy

    missmommy Member

    Thank you --- all of that is wonderful advice! I never thought about him not liking the smell of the soap. I know that he hates having wet hands and how fingertips wrinkle when they're wet. He's always had problems with that since he was really little. I'm going to talk to him and see if I can help him with some of these solutions.
  9. A dad

    A dad Active Member

    Makes me remember something my wife did mine and my boys body spray was well really not to her liking and she got enough and said from now on I will buy your body spray and she did as in he end if she had to deal it smell in the house at least let it be to her liking. You might replace a body odor with a equally bad body spray.
  10. missmommy

    missmommy Member

    Haha so true! Nothing like BO and that fake musky alcohol smell to make everyone gag!!! But I do like the men's products at Bath and Body Works and I even use them myself, they're just preferable to the flowery fruity smells to me. It's all just preference and as weird as it sounds I never thought to ask him what he prefers. D'oh.
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    With autistics it's not just about disliking the smell. Most are very sensitive to noise, touch, smell, texture and taste. The odor can literally make them physically sick. Same with certain food, tags behind shirts, certain clothing texture, and noise can sound likes cannons to some. My son could not handle the fire works without sitting in the car and wearing headsets to blunt the noise. Often at movies he'd cover his ears and want to leave. Once my daughter talked him into trying food he thought looked icky and he did try but he threw up. In a restaurant,! He was around 12, not 2. He did not do it to be defiant as he apologized profusely and tried to help clean it and is not defiant.

    These are differently wire people. They need to learn how to live in a world not built for supercool people like them. Some can do better than others...with understanding and lots of loving help. Telling them they are"bad" just makes them stop trying. They need to feel they are okay and to try. And believe. My son tried so hard. It worked. He is one of my heroes.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2017
  12. Praecepta

    Praecepta Active Member

    I had a 13 year old foster kid move in with me and I had to teach him how to take a shower! No one ever taught him.

    And thinking along those lines, people are not born knowing these things, which we assume everyone knows or should know... With that said, teach him all about this assuming he knows nothing.

    Stand in the shower (with your clothes on and water off). Show him how you wash your hair in the shower, get wet, apply a little shampoo, wash hair face and neck, rinse. Then pretend you are applying hand soap all over your body, then put the soap down and rub your arms, underarms, and all other parts of body. Get the soap all over and rub it, rub it. Then rinse.

    Then give him 10 minutes to take a shower. Set a timer outside the bathroom door, knock on the door after 10 minutes and ask what he is doing. Taking a long shower will shoot up your utility bill, so NOT acceptable to take a 30 minute shower!

    After he exits the bathroom, give him the smell test. If he stinks somewhere, make him take another shower and soap those spots. Also get him to use underarm deodorant each morning. Teach him that teenage boys STINK! It is normal and they have to do a bit more washing so they smell nice. Point out that girls prefer boys who do not stink. Might help to have other girls in the house affirm that thought.

    FYI - The above is for boys/men. Women of course may prefer to take a bath and take longer. That is OK!
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  13. missmommy

    missmommy Member

    I like the idea of posting a laminated instruction sheet inside the shower. Lol. I may work on that for him! He is bad about losing track of time and so often daily activities are a battle.
  14. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    My son who has anxiety said he actually felt very vulnerable in the shower; being naked. He knew it made no sense as the doors were locked, the bathroom door was locked and we have two dogs that would bark if anyone came in the house.

    He has not been diagnosed with autism or Aspergers but I have to wonder if he has a touch of Asperger just from what I've learned about it.

    He is not living at home any longer so I don't have to deal with it but I still do let it bother me at times. I know he isn't showering as often as what is considered normal. We have started a weekly FaceTime for that and a few other reasons.
  15. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    For the one who feel vulnerable naked in the shower, why not wear swim trunks? You can reach under them to scrub those parts easily and it would not feel nearly so vulnerable. When my son was in the psychiatric hospital, the kids wore swim suits to do the shower lessons and they soaped either under or through the suits depending on the type of suit. Girls suits or speedo type suits (for boys) could be soaped through and boys boxer style trunks could be soaped under easily. It preserved modesty and kept those supervising from any hint of anything improper. It would be an easy fix for the person who felt uncomfortable being naked in the shower. The suit could then just be hung up to dry before the next shower.
  16. PiscesMom

    PiscesMom Active Member

    anything scented, and anything from Bath and Body Works would make me ill, no offense, it is all just yucky chemicals. Can't you go to Sprouts and get some nice hard milled, the house brand, scent free soap? Whole Foods has the same stuff; its the house brand so its pretty cheap. Or get Castile soap? When I did ABA therapy, we were asked not to wear any scents around the kids. I am very picky (and economical) about soaps! :) I find I can't buy any at Target - it is all disgusting to me.