How do I help my child with Aspergers in self-help skills when she is so sensitive to touch i.e. hair combing & teeth brushing especially?
The problems you are facing are two of the biggest issues that challenge children with Asperger’s: self help skills and sensory issues. Children with Asperger’s Syndrome do not always have social understanding. The need for basic personal hygiene and other daily living skills escapes them. Their focus is usually limited and these things seem unimportant, especially when compared to their choice of special interests. In addition, sensory issues can make ordinary chores and hygiene functions downright unpleasant. It can be difficult to develop basic skills like regular bathing or even doing the dishes when a child is bothered by the sound and feel of running water.
Teaching your child with Asperger’s self help skills is very important. So, what can a parent do to make these difficult experiences more positive? It is all in the presentation. Children enjoy fun and learning anything can be fun with a little planning. First, you must find a way to increase your child’s sensory tolerance. The sensory systems are very important to a child’s development. Here are some common sensory issues observed in children with Asperger’s Syndrome.
- Sensory sensitivities
- Intolerance to touch
- Intolerance to sounds
- Intolerance to smells
- Intolerance to lights
- Sensory-seeking behaviors
- Gross motor weaknesses
- Fine motor weaknesses
- Balance and gait problems
All of these sensory issues can be addressed by occupational therapy or sensory integration therapy. However, parents can easily find resources to help implement a home sensory profile and plan when private therapy is not available. Techniques like deep muscle massage, joint compression, and body brushing are a few examples.
Once you have begun to address your child’s sensory issues, you can work on the Asperger’s self help needs. These skills are often tackled during therapies offered in the school setting, as well in private therapies. Once again, daily living and self help skills can be tackled at home. There are many books and teaching resources geared to the home setting. This book, “Hygiene and Related Behaviors for Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum and Related Disorders: A Fun Curriculum with a Focus on Social Understanding”, by Kelly Mahler, is a complete curriculum that teaches many daily living skills. Most importantly, it is fun!
Remember, you know your child with Asperger’s better than anyone and you are capable of working through the issues of Asperger’s self help skills at home.
Thanks for reading,