For kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders or other sensory sensitivities, bath time can be anything but bubble-filled bliss. A little understanding and some practical tips can go a long way towards reducing bath time tears. We’ve got five tips for better baths:
- Prepare the bathroom ahead of time. The sound of rushing water, the loud echoes against the tiles, the bright lights—this can be total sensory overload for kids with autism. Take a few minutes to prepare the space and reduce the sensory input. Fill the bathtub and turn off the water. Lay extra towels or rugs on tile floors to absorb noise. Use softer lighting like a countertop lamp instead of overhead fluorescents. Once the bathroom is calm and quiet, bring the child in for bath time.
- Talk through each step. Prepare them for each new sensation—soap, water, scrub, towel—by introducing it verbally. Some kids enjoy a countdown together to prepare for each one.
- Find a rinse routine that fits. Rinsing suds out of hair is a common trigger for a freak out. Many parents find that leaning forward feels more secure than leaning back. Others recommend using a plastic visor or a pair of swim googles to keep soap and water out of eyes during a rinse.
- Stick to preferred textures and pressures. Foamy soap versus slimy soap, loofah versus washrag, gentle towel dry versus vigorous rub—an Autistic child has specific sensory preferences when it comes to textures and physical pressure. Learning your child’s needs and sticking to them will make a big difference.
- No nasty chemicals. Autistic children sometimes react badly to artificial colors and harsh chemicals. Choosing bath products like SoCozy with no parabens, formaldehyde or artificial coloring means no risk of skin sensitivities during bath time.