Why I Struggle with Teeth Brushing and Showering.
As an Autistic Adult one of the things I have been most embarrassed about talking about and admitting to, but also one of my biggest problems – Is Personal Hygiene.
In my case, brushing my teeth and showering regularly. There are a few reasons why I have such issues with teeth brushing and showering, some of which I’m only recently beginning to understand.
Let me make it clear that I’m not a dirty person and I understand the need for good Personal Hygiene; however, sometimes I just cant for various reasons.
Below I have listed some of the things I struggle with, and the Strategies that I use to help. Some of these strategies may sound a bit strange but they work for me so I don’t really care how they sound to other people!
Maybe what works for me, might work for you too, and you'll probably know when you read it – if it’s something that will help or not. If my strategies aren’t for you – it’s all about playing to your strengths and thinking about the reasons why you personally struggle – and then coming up with a strategy to help.
Problem 1 ... I forget.
I suppose this had to come first because, honestly, as much as I hate to admit it – brushing my teeth or having a shower just doesn’t seem important to me.
If I was on my own at home all day without bumping into or seeing anyone, I wouldn’t bother to brush my teeth or shower because I don’t see the point. Because of this, I tend to forget to do it, it’s just not a priority for me.
To a person without Autism, this sounds ridiculous - and to meet me, I'm an intelligent, well-spoken woman; I guess most people wouldn't expect me to have this problem, but I do - and we need to talk about these things, so other Adults with Autism know that they're not alone and that there are strategies you can put in place.
To overcome this problem, I use a checklist every morning and evening to remind me to do various tasks including brushing my teeth and having a Shower.
Problem 2 ... Bathrooms are disgusting!
I have only realised very recently that this is a major contributor to my lack of Personal Hygiene, I just don’t understand why you have things like toothbrushes and flannels in such a disgusting room, I mean – there’s no getting round the fact that toilets are germ factories!!
I have a wash bag with all of my basic toiletries in – I have always had this for holidays and nights away, and find it easier to use this so I know exactly how much I have left of everything.
Again, this is probably something that sounds bizarre to a Neurotypical but when you share your house with at least 5 other people – it’s hard to keep things to yourself! Anyway, I use my wash bag downstairs in the kitchen to brush my teeth and have a wash in the mornings. This makes it much easier for me, as the kitchen is a cleaner and more sanitary place than the bathroom and it just FEELS better!
When it comes to showering, I have to make sure I’ve cleaned the shower before I use it and that there are no strangers around, because I like to spend the least amount of time in the Poo Room as possible!! In practical terms, that means going into the bathroom to clean the shower and putting it on to run, while I get naked in my bedroom – go and have a shower – get out as quick as possible, and back to the relative cleanliness of my room to get dry. Obviously, I don’t want to be bumping into random visitors on my towel wrapped hallway drip dash so I won’t have a shower if there’s anyone other than my husband or kids at home.
Problem 3 ... Sensory Stuff.
It all feels really strange to me, the smells of the Toothpaste, Shampoo and Shower Gel. The scratchiness of the toothbrush, the different textures of various Towels. Even the feel of the water can make me feel uncomfortable sometimes! Many of these problems are heightened when I’m stressed, which is why people tend to notice I’m not taking care of myself as well when I’m having a rough time.
This is more of a personal one really, I take the time to choose items which feel nice, products which I actively enjoy using, for example I have recently started using The Aveeno range of products, and I adore them. They are not very strong smelling, very natural and soothing. I also have particular towels which I use just for me (I use a Dylon Machine Dye to make sure all of my towels and flannels are the same colour and everyone knows not to use them!)
I’m sorry about this but these things need to be talked about so here goes…..
Some people may think this is unnecessary but I have come across way too many Adults with Autism who aren’t properly educated on this stuff! I wasn’t properly educated on this stuff until I had to learn it to teach my kids!
Periods. Even at this time of the month you have to keep Clean, it’s horrible because as quick as you wash yourself there’s blood everywhere again! You kind of feel like you just want to wallow in a puddle of blood and Self Pity until it all goes away but that would just be a terrible, smelly, depressing mess!
Use a Tampon just while you have a shower. If your anything like me, the idea of using a tampon is similar to seeing one yellow sweet in a bowl of red ones, or a really high-pitched squeal in your ear!
However, it’s a necessary evil and you can probably get through a shower in 7 minutes! These ones are the easiest and most comfortable I’ve found.
Body hair. You don’t have to Shave! Anywhere! It’s up to you whether you shave your body hair or not. However, I prefer to shave under my arms, my legs and my bikini line as I feel cleaner (and sexier!) when everywhere is neat and tidy!
It is a HORRIBLE feeling though, and there can be strange sounds when you shave. (squelching, scraping …) I use these Razors.