Washing An Autistic Childs Hair/Helpful Tips For Fear Of Showers And Hygiene

Tips for washing hair of ASD child

Washing the hair of a child who has an autistic spectrum disorder can be both time consuming and strenuous for the child as well as the parent. I have a now 17 year old autistic daughter who has a fear of water, making it most difficult to perform this simple act. The first thing to keep in mind is that the child has to feel in control and somewhat comfortable with how the hair washing is being performed. It has been my experience with my daughter as well as witnessing other autistic children going through the same grooming procedure that showers terrify them because of the way the water sounds as it hits their heads and basically pours out over the entire body. Statistics have shown that a great number of these children have extra sensitive hearing and sometimes they can even hear things before we(the non-autistic)community can hear them. With my daughter, the sound of the water hitting her head and cascading over her ears has a very loud booming effect and can acutally make the ears ring triggering earaches and discomfort because of the ear's sensitivity. It also gives an underwater affect that is very scary to the child, especially if they are afraid of water. Try letting the child kneel over the side of the tub or stand and lean forward over the sink while washing their hair. Allow them to hold a washcloth or drying towel over their face to prevent water from running into the eyes, nose and ears. When rinsing use a large cup or plastic bowl and have the child turn side ways when rinsing the back and sides of the head. This will allow the water to fall away from the face and the child will feel in control of the situation, like they can stop the procedure at any time. This will relieve the child of the feeling that they are under water and will take away the "loudness," of the whole procedure making a joyful and comfortable experience for everyone involved. Another tip for showering if thats what your child does are earplugs! If they don't mind the underwater effect but don't like the noise. I hope this helps, let me know what you think!

Comments 9 comments

6 years ago

Very helpful tips to parents of children with Autism that fear water or getting their hair washed. Great Job


sherry 6 years ago

i have a niece and this sounds like a great idea also if the child has a family member that they are fond of they helps with hair washing or showers my niece feels like when i'm there she has to show me how tough she is and she can get her hair washed with no problem i comment on how brave and tight she is this is oue special word for you are the woman it makes her smile so that also is a helpful way to help the child deal with sahowers or just getting a hair wash i hope this helps someone never underestimate the power of the aunt or as my niece says titi especially when the aunt loves her niece to pieces the power of family is magical for any child i just think titi power rocks.


Jiheishou Daigakusha 5 years ago

You must be very empathic to know exactly how to make hair washing easier for Autistics. I'm an Autie, and still have to kneel on the floor and bend over the bath to get my hair washed, at 18 years old!


ladyt11 5 years ago

Hi Jiheishou,I am very empathic because I have a 15 yr. old daughter who is an autie as I mentioned in my hub and to this day also she still washes her hair kneeling over the tub! Out of everything I tried that works the best. Its very nice to hear from you. I'm very interested to know how you handle things such as anxiety in different situations and any learning techniques that you could share. You are 3 yrs older than my daughter and any suggestions from another autie who is a teenager would help greatly, please keep in touch and thanks for your comment


Jiheishou Daigakusha 5 years ago

Having as much notice beforehand helps loads. With less unexpected change comes less stress and anxiety, and less meltdowns! Also, put your daughter in control of change where possible. It really helps when I control any changes in my life.


ladyt11 5 years ago

Thank you so much Jiheisou!! Advice read and taken. Please continue to keep in touch!!!


mimi 5 years ago

How can i help my granson, who has fear of the water, take a bath? He is also autisic. Thanks!


ladyt11 5 years ago

I am glad that you read this hub and I am glad that I may be of help to you! I started out by just letting my daughter sit in the tub and letting the water run while she washed up. She became used to the sound and the feel of it on her body because a lot of times it sounds really lound to them. Louder than what it would sound to us, they have very sensitive ears sometimes and there ablity to hear so well is part of the fear. Gradually I would let her start to feel up the tub to the amount of water that she felt safe in. Sometimes it was very little and gradually it became more and now she can bathe with a nice amount of water in the tub. Basically just let him be in control of his bathing and it helps him to feel like he's making decisions and that he's participating in something he's a part of. Tell him what you are about to do and let him discuss it with you, I have found that this really helps when they know what's going on before time. Sometimes the feel of water around them feels suffocating because a lot of times there are sensory issues that accompany the autism. Letting him see the process of the tub gradually filling with water as he can take it will help him feel safe knowing that he's in control. He will do great with a loving grandmother like you. I hope this helps!


sarah 21 months ago

Can anyone suggest anything to help a young autistic boy, he only likes the shower head on his feet and doesn't like flannels, wipes or sponges. Please help this distressed little man

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