Blog #22~ Grooming 101
A few weeks ago in Blog #18~A Cut Above, I wrote about the joys ha ha… of giving Nick haircuts along with a few other grooming issues. I thought this week I would expand with some information on overall grooming and fostering independence in hygiene and dressing routines. While it seems like something we all just do without thinking, it’s not as simple as that.
Well, maybe it is for a cat. Miss Mellie makes it look so easy and peaceful……
So where to start, tooth brushing, bathing, washing face and hands, dressing? Several years ago, a wise autism specialist once offered this piece of advice. “Pick one thing on the day you pay your bills each month and that is what you will work on with your child until the next monthly bill cycle.” This helps you as a parent to focus on one goal without being overwhelmed. The second *pearl of wisdom I have learned is to make sure you have a block of time where things are relaxed to teach these skills. Mornings are out for us since the bus gets here at 6:30 a.m. Uh no are you kidding me, 6:00 a.m. is not going to be a teaching moment.
Let’s start with brushing teeth. I like flip up caps on toothpaste as it is easier for Nick to open up on his own. By the way why does the toothpaste fall off a toothbrush so easily but it sticks to the sink like glue? We use a lot of visuals to help Nick navigate his world. Autism 101, if he can see it, he will understand it. Here is the step by step sequence we use for brushing teeth.
I found these sequence boards in a software program called “Functional Living Skills and Behavioral Rules.” There are tons of visual prompts in this program!
This software program has step sheets for everything from showering to feminine hygiene steps. In addition it offers daily living schedules, community skills and behavioral rules. Another great resource is a book by Mary Wrobel called “Taking Care of Myself.” This is a must have for a parent with a special needs child. For showering the steps are posted on the outside of the shower door facing in for Nick….
I wrote the steps on the back. To prompt I slide my fingers in to each the picture while Nick is showering….
Here are a few other visual ideas for shower and shaving …..
Over the years I have also used a lot of modeling of these tasks along with the visuals. During Nick’s shower I often pretend like I am washing too. Why, because Nick can get lost in “receptive words”. Too much verbal cues get him caught up in the shuffle. Wiki.answers.com explains it as this: “Receptive language” is the comprehension of language – listening and understanding what is communicated. Another way to view it is as the receiving aspect of language. (Sometimes, reading is included when referring to receptive language, but some people use the term for spoken communication only.) It involves being attentive to what is said, the ability to comprehend the message, the speed of processing the message, and concentrating on the message. Receptive language includes understanding figurative language, as well as literal language. Receptive language includes being able to follow a series of commands.” So for Nick, it helps to use fewer words and focus on the visuals and modeling the desired behavior. For example rather than say, “Nick you need to get the shampoo and wash your hair.” I would either point to the shampoo bottle and mimic the action or simply say “Nick, wash hair.” It is succinct and he gets it.
Time for me to get clean and slicked up!
The goal is to work to diminish the cues whether they are verbal, modeling or visuals. This idea is known as “Least Restrictive Prompting.” Teaching a behavior starts with putting your hand over the child’s hand to to show them how to do it. Then literally you begin to fade back. From there your hand is over the child’s wrist, then elbow, upper mid arm, shoulder and finally letting go and being within close proximity. The end result is to help him foster independence in all of these tasks. To date Nick is able to get his grooming bin out of the closet and follow a routine with success. He also has hygeine built into his curriculum at school.
Here is Nick’s grooming bin. He also uses body spray but that is kept under the sink that has a childproof lock since he likes to take it and spray all over the place including right into your eyeballs (see more of these shenanigans in blog #10~ Nano Second.)
Last week in Blog #21, I mentioned the word “buck naked.” Nick has absolutely no problem undressing. However getting dressed can be tricky. He often puts his pants and shirts on backwards still to this day. By laying the clothes out a certain way, Nick is more easily able to get this done correctly. Note the shirt is laid out backwards so he can grab it from behind and pull it over his head. The pants are laid out over his feet straight up so he can put one leg in at a time….
Voila, it works! 🙂
Here is another idea. Put a smiley face on with painters tape on the tag area and cue this to be in the back.
Bottom line is this…. As Nick’s mom, the biggest gift I can give my son besides love is to teach him to become independent in all of these tasks. He will gain confidence, pride and hopefully a spot in a group home someday. Not every day goes smoothly. Sometimes we just have to get out the door, and if Nick is moving slowly I don’t force him to do it on his own. Pushing Nick too hard can lead to frustration on both our parts so I pick my battles. Easy as a cat taking a bath, no but it can be done. That’s what is in my noggin this week. I hope the Grooming 101 tutorial was helpful and maybe enlightening. Make it a good one and until next Monday and here’s to looking slick and sharp. After all, as the ZZ Top says….”Every girl’s crazy about a sharp dressed man….”
*Pearl of wisdom according to wiki.answers.com says that “The biggest connection I can see between a pearl and wisdom is they both take a long time to develop. Also both a pearl and wisdom seem like small objects but are both very valuable, and they develop from grit