As a parent, bathing a child with autism seems to be quite challenging and worrisome as various factors pop-up to interfere with this activity, like,
- Shifting a child to the bathroom itself might be frustrating for the parent.
- The tap water sound may be disturbing for the kid.
- The temperature of the water seems frightening.
- The texture of the soap and shampoo may be bothering.
- Touching their head or hair would be unpleasant.
- Drying their body using a scratchy towel might be irritating for the child.
These feelings are quite common as the child may have sensory processing issues and because of all the above factors, the child completely feels insecure during bathing.
Therefore, to make it fun and interesting and also to make the child feel safe and secure during bathing, it is essential to introduce some activities.
Let’s see what all can be done in a step-by-step manner to engage the kids for bathing.
Before involving the child in any activity, let the child know in advance what he /she is about to get engaged by using an activity scheduling chart with pictorial representation.
Once the child anticipates where he/she is going to spend some minutes, might soothe their mind and make themselves mentally prepared for that task.
With regards to bathing, there are certain steps to perform before engaging the child in the activity,
- Mentally prepare the child for bathing (as mentioned above).
- Fill the tub with water and ensure that the temperature is tolerable for the kid.
- Make sure the smell of the soap and shampoo does not have a strong odour.
- Depending on the child’s tactile sensitivity, select a towel that can be well tolerated.
- Finally, make the outfits ready for the child to wear immediately after bathing.
- Children love to hear songs/rhymes while bathing, so add this to your agenda.
Having prepared all the above steps, next let’s see 20 different kinds of activities that can be implemented in the bathtub and bathroom,
- Add some glowing toys inside the bathtub.
- Fishing activity
- Filling the bathtub with colorful balls and ask the child to sort by colors
- Painting the wall using watercolors while sitting in the bathtub
- Accompany a puppet with your child
- Implement blowing bubbles activity
- Have some water beads in the bathtub
- Put some numbers and alphabet figures in the tub and ask the child to pick one and label them
- Add some floating tiles in the tub and ask the child to pick them one by one and stick on the wall nearby
- Float some easter eggs on the water and make the child open each egg
- Stringing beads activity
- Cutting sponges into basic shapes
- Tie a string near the bathtub and add some floating clips in the water and ask the child to pick each and fix on the tied string
- Ask the child to use tongs and pick the floating pom-poms to a basket
- Using a spoon, ask the child to collect the floating beads to a basket
- Ask the child to stack floating rings by size, shape or color
- Present the child a bottle with glitters and ask the child to fill it with water
- Fix visual stimulating lights in the bathroom
- Fix a mirror near the bathtub and perform some funny action along with rhymes
- Decorate the bathroom with fun stickers and toys.
With all these activities, implementing concepts wherever possible will enable a child’s learning skill and generalization as well.
We need to remember that changing the bath time activities often will frustrate the child, instead if you feel that the child gets bored with the same activity, then at this time, a new activity can be presented.
When a child is exposed to an activity, make sure the activity is not completely new for the kid as this may also cause frustration. Initially, it is better to work on the concept of generalisation rather than learning new skills while bathing. Later, when the child gets adapted to the routine, teaching new skills can be implemented. Gradually teach the child how to take a bath independently.
Have fun bathing time with your kid.