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Self-Care and Hygiene

Self-care and hygiene are important skills we all need to learn. For many of us, we learn hygiene and self-care skills by watching others and doing it ourselves or by being taught step-by-step and then trying for ourselves. These can be skills like eating with utensils, drinking from a cup and a straw, bathing, toilet training, brushing our teeth, and so on and so forth. For many individuals, though, that are diagnosed with autism, these self-care and hygiene skills can be a challenge.

Challenge for Individuals with ASD

There are many different components to each of these skills that can be aversive to individuals with autism or be difficult to grasp. Individuals with autism may take longer to acquire these skills, and may need additional support or even ongoing support to master these skills successfully. Sensory aspects and pre-requisite skills need to be considered when teaching self-care and hygiene skills.

Start Early

It is important that we begin to teach self-care and hygiene skills at an early age. The skills being taught should be age- and developmentally-appropriate. It is also important that these skills are observed to see where the individual is. Sometimes, it helps to break down skills to make it easier to teach and learn. There is no magic number on how many steps each skill should have. This should be based on the number of steps the individual needs.

Self-Care & Hygiene Ideas

Here are some ideas of self-care and hygiene skills (these are in no specific order):

  • Brushing teeth
  • Eating with finger
  • Eating with utensils
  • Drinking from an open cup
  • Drinking from a straw
  • Toilet training
  • Dressing and undressing
  • Brushing hair
  • Washing and drying hands
  • Washing and drying face
  • Putting socks and shoes on
  • Taking off shoes and socks
  • Bathing and drying off
  • Washing and drying hair

Keep At It

Be patient and consistent. It may take some individuals longer to acquire these skills. And make sure to provide any supports that are needed. These can be a variety of different things to help the individual succeed in the task.

Support Examples

Here are some examples of supports:

  • Visual aides
  • Social stories
  • Modeling
  • Reward chart
  • Set schedule/routine

We Can Help

If your child is having particular difficulty with any self-care, hygiene, or activities of daily living (ADLs), contact us. Our staff can help develop routines for self-care and build the skills necessary to learn self-care and hygiene. Occupational Therapy (OT) might be a good fit.

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