Our Kiddos and Personal Hygiene
Taking care of our personal appearance is one of the first things children do as they transition into independence. They start to shower, get dressed, do their hair, brush their teeth, and more on their own, but for some, this transition to greater independence can be hard. Everyone has days where they may just not want to do their hair and wear a hat instead (if possible), but things such as brushing your teeth and showering are non-negotiable. Yet, for those with life challenges such as ADHD, Autism, “Asperger’s,” anxiety disorders, etc., keeping up with personal hygiene may not be their priority every day.
Sometimes people do forget to do things in the morning such as brush their teeth or put on deodorant, but it should not be a daily occurrence. Without it, especially during a time like middle or high school, kids can have difficulties with adolescence and may make them seem less approachable by their peers. With such massive changes happening to their bodies, it is important kids learn how to manage their hygiene including smell and health because, without it, other kids may begin to avoid them or pick on them. They may not want to associate with someone who only showers once a week or doesn’t regularly brush their teeth because things such as body odor can deter kids from thinking you would not make a good companion to spend time with despite that possibly not being true. Plus, children can be mean. They target those who show signs of not being up to society’s standards of cleanliness and can tease those who may struggle with maintaining their hygiene. Kids typically do not consider that maybe their peer is struggling with depression and/or anxiety or may have life challenges. Rather, they tend to tease them for the way they look or smell since it is the first thing we notice about a person, which is why hygiene is so important for keeping our kiddos “bully-proof”.
Hygiene is not only important for social skills though, but for health as well. Keeping up with your cleanliness can prevent issues such as cavities or your hair knotting which can cause pain and other discomforts if not properly dealt with. This then also causes financial issues since sometimes it is expensive to fix things such as dental. Not showering as well can cause rashes or infections to occur as well, causing discomfort in both categories since the child may not be keeping up with cleanliness due to sensory issues, but things such as rashes can make them uncomfortable as well. A source explains, “Developing self-care skills such as washing and personal hygiene can sometimes be an issue for autistic people. Sensory differences, such as a heightened sense of smell or touch, can make washing an uncomfortable experience.” (autism.org). However, these challenges extend past the autism community into many other areas.
When this occurs, it is important for your child to be able to identify issues on their own and react appropriately to try and adapt to the situation. Changing to unscented soaps, different flavored toothpaste, creating a hair washing or bathing schedule and so much more can be done to ensure your child maintains proper hygiene skills. Then, it is important to be able to ensure they will keep up and continue with their schedule, so they do not fall behind or forget to do certain things in the morning or during the day. These are some of the critical life skills they will need going into adulthood. This can be hard to ensure, but with the Support for Students Growth Center, it can be made easier.
At the Support for Students Growth Center, we provide the social, behavioral, emotional, and executive functioning skills children, teens, young adults, and their families need for a happy and successful life in and out of the school settings. Our team of professionals offers coaching/counseling and social skills groups to help teach skills such as understanding the importance of hygiene to ensure parents do not have to worry that their kids will be unable to make and maintain friendships and keep up with personal health on their own. So, if your child is struggling with skills like the ones listed above and much more, the SSGC is equipped with the tools to help.
Dr. Eric J. Nach, Ph.D., M.Ed., A.S.D.C., is a Developmental and Behavioral Specialist who specializes in Autism, ADHD and related disorders. Dr. Nach is the founder of the College Life Skills Program where he and his team of professional’s help develop the Emotional Maturity, Executive Functioning, Life Skill and Social Abilities of college students and those high school students preparing for college. The CollegeLSP is a subsidiary program of the Support For Students Growth Center, located in Boca Raton, FL and providing services nationwide.
Keeping healthy. National Autistic Society. (n.d.). Retrieved November 28, 2022, from https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/topics/physical-health/keeping-healthy