Keeping clean is tough enough for any kid. Add special needs to the mix, and it can be quite challenging. Whether your child is two or twelve, keeping up with good hygiene practices is important. We have also found that practicing those independent skills while they’re little can be a huge help in the long run. It may mean sacrificing some time & energy now, but the payoff can be significant.
Bathroom tasks can be made easier with the help of visual schedules. The bathroom walls might not be quite as pretty as usual, but visual cues are helpful, and, for most of our kids, make more sense than verbal commands. When Caleb was small, we started with potty training and tooth brushing. We made 4-5 step visual schedules and placed them appropriately. We even made “personal story books” to reinforce at bedtime (or anytime really).
If needed, we began with hand-over-hand to get those muscles trained in the proper technique. We graduated to mom or dad demonstrating the task and had Caleb follow afterward. It takes time! Patience is so important, in so many things we do with special needs kids. Once they’ve got a few skills mastered, try another! We added showering about age 6. It was slow-going, but happy to say we’ve got an independent shower-er now. ☺
Personal care skills are important for everyone. Make sure you let your children have opportunities to try and build them up for success with tools like visual supports and personal stories.
Here is Caleb using his Toothbrush Pillow!