Puberty brings many physical and psychological changes that are difficult to handle, especially for teens with autism. Our responsibility as parents is to teach our children how to take care of their bodies during this stage. Here we show you the best way to educate your child with autism in all aspects related to the care and hygiene of the body.
The first thing you have to explain to an adolescent within the spectrum is why he needs to take care of his body. It is important to use a simple language according to his age and level of autism, so he can understand the changes he will experience as he grows and develops.
Let him know that as we age, our bodies change until we become adults. This transition from boy to man is what we call puberty. When it arrives, it will bring changes like:
- Oily skin and hair.
- Facial hair growth (beard).
- Sweat will have a stronger and more penetrating smell, especially in the area under the arms.
- The voice becomes deeper.
- Frequent erections, ejaculation, and wet dreams.
This process is biological and natural. It happens to all men when they grow up. The changes are presented progressively, so you must help your child change his routines to stay clean and healthy.
A routine to stay clean
Talk to your child with autism about the daily routine he needs to follow to stay clean. Teach him that he should:
- Wear clean underwear.
- Wash his hands daily with soap and water, especially before and after eating or after using the bathroom.
- Use a clean, dry towel after taking a bath.
- Take a bath twice a day.
- Make a greater effort to clean his genitals and armpits as they are the most sweaty areas and can produce a bad smell.
- Brush his teeth twice a day and floss to prevent tooth decay and bad breath.
What about shaving?
In adolescence, facial hair begins to show. For children with autism, it can be uncomfortable and they may try to remove it from their faces. Your son should not shave on his own. Guide him through the whole process and tell him that he should always ask an adult for help, at least until he learns how to do it safely.
Underwear, why wear it?
We recommend that you explain to your boy why it is convenient to wear underwear. This intimate garment should be comfortable, easy for him to put on and remove, and make him feel safe when walking, running or jumping.
Mention that there are different types of underwear and he can choose the one he likes best and suits his needs.
How can he remember this much information?
At first, changing his daily routine can be hard work, but over time, your child will end up getting used to it. He will eventually understand that these new habits will help him prevent diseases, the appearance of infections, and keep him clean and fresh.
Remind him how the routine should go every day. For this, you can use these strategies:
- Make a schedule about the times he is supposed to wash his face, shave, or take a bath.
- Use images to remind him of the steps he needs to take every morning.
- Put numbers on daily items, such as shampoo and deodorant, to let him know which one he should apply first.
- Prepare special kits with the supplies he needs. For example, the first kit should have soap, a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, and a hairbrush.
- Choose the supplies he likes to use for their smell, texture, or pleasant sensations they produce. In stores, there are many different brands and smells. Encourage him to choose the one likes the most.
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