Poop and a Bath or is it Bath and a Poop?

Getting back slowly, to a short, light post about the regular star of this little blog – my son…

There are many rigid routines in our lives, dictated by the decibel level coming from the mouth of the little overlord in our house.  Like all other families raising children with autism, we engage in and refrain from certain things based upon our child’s sensitivities.  One of the strange daily rituals in our house involves the timing and manner of the little guy’s bath.

It used to be a bath every single night.  When it got to be winter this year, however, his skin was getting super dry, so we cut it back to every other night, unless there is an accident.  And there have been lots and lots of accidents.  Take a look at this face:

The Cheeks.

Do you see these cheeks?  For years, I wondered why my child would get these rosy, red cheeks.  Was it teething, a fever, dehydration, heat?  Then, one day, Cara came into our lives.  She was a new ABA tutor.  I mentioned the cheeks to her.  In a very oft-handed, no-big-deal way, she said to me, “I thought that happens when he has to go potty.”  My reaction to this?  Wait, what?!  Well, no….maybe.  Um, I’ll have to watch that… and finally, Hey, Cara is good!  Cara was right.

My son has a tell.  Whenever he has to poop, he will get red cheeks an hour or two before it happens.  When he gets those red cheeks, you know within the time frame, he will be making a deposit.  Somewhere.  And someone better get him to the toilet.  Thus, the tie-in back to the bath.

Despite knowing of this poop, alarm clock, he still does not make it there.  Often.  And I am left cleaning the mess.  The problem is that if I put him on the toilet too early, he will only put some “change” in the depository.  By the time, I remember he needs to go back – yeah, too late.

Usually, there is enough of a mess to justify a bath.  I am very fortunate not to have a child who is too sensitive to water.  That is not the problem in our house.  Our water and bath issues are different.

First, come trying to get him to take the bath.  First, he will say, “Bathie tomorrow.”  When this does not work, he will engross himself in some activity and ignore my requests to get his butt down the hall for a bath.  Finally, he will relent and go.

The temperature of the water cannot be more than a degree or two above lukewarm.  My son actually hates to wash his hands in the sink in anything but cold water.  We have two separate controls for the faucet and he refuses to have the warm water on at all.  So, actually, I am fairly lucky that is he not trying to bathe in icy cold water.

We also have a certain array of bath toys that must be present and accounted for at all times in the bath.  The actual bath portion of the bath is very short.  I wash him, usually.  Sometimes, I let him try to wash himself, but given that there are a limited number of hours in a day, I usually finish this up myself.

Hair washing is another very sensitive area for my son.  We use a thing that looks like a cut-in-half pitcher with a rubbery area to prevent water and soap from getting in his eyes.  I have him look up and pull his dry hair back.  Once wet, I can shampoo him but only in the front.  If I reach for the back, he freaks out.  I’ve learned to make him look up and give him a kiss while I wash the back to distract him.  It works.

If soap accidentally gets in his eyes, there is a mantra of, “Clean, clean!! Towel! Wipe!” until he is satisfied that it has been removed.  He does not like getting his face washed.  So, the way around this was the shave.

There are so many cute little shaving kits for the little guys and my son has had them all.  He loves to put on his shaving cream and shave his little face in the tub.  This is major play for him and too adorable.  And while a little shampoo can cause him to freak out, he could have “shaving cream” on his face all day and not care…

Water or soap on the face = bad.

“Shaving cream” on face = good.

When he gets out of the tub, I dry him off but I always have to hand him a washcloth to hold in his hands.  He rubs it on his mouth and lips and it keeps him calm.  He then gets his “ducky” towel and slippers.  He runs down the hall despite my asking that he not do that every day, and gets dressed in PJs.  Mission accomplished.

After the bath, he is usually able to entertain himself until bedtime.  Unless he poops again.  Which happens a lot at our house.  After the bath.  Sometimes enough to justify a second bath.  Then, the whole ritual begins again gives new meaning to the words “rinse and repeat.”

[It’s been a really tough week from hell.  I’m exhausted and still on pins and needles but cautiously optimistic.  Mom ate two times on Thursday, her 7th day in the hospital.  The food is a puree mix.  She must drink liquids thickened to the consistency of pancake syrup.  She cannot have water.  Despite this admonition more than once, my mom has worked every doctor, nurse, physical therapist and maintenance worker she has come into contact with for a precious glass of water.  No one’s falling for it.  That’s why I think she’s improving – she’s attempting to manipulate…

You well wishers have all earned a place in my heart and my thanks will be expressed on the blog in an upcoming post…but for now, THANK YOU for your kindness and support through one of the roughest times of my life.]


About solodialogue

I'm a lawyer and the mom of a 6 year old boy with autism. I work part time and spend the rest driving here and there and everywhere for my son's various therapies. Instead of trying cases, I now play Pac-man and watch SpongeBob. I wear old sweaters and jeans and always, always flat shoes to run after my son. Yeah, it's different but I wouldn't change it for anything. The love of my child is the most powerful, beautiful and rewarding aspect of my life.
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18 Responses to Poop and a Bath or is it Bath and a Poop?

  1. Hi there, found you on twitter so I thought I’d drop by and say hello. Sorry to hear you’ve had such a difficult time with your mum; hope things improve. This is a very interesting post about routines, something that I think many of us parents of ASD children will relate to. We have a particular procedure over teeth clearning and washing.

    • solodialogue says:

      Hi mom! Glad you came by… kind of a strange first post to read coming from me but there had been so many heavy posts of late, I just wanted a chance to get back to something different. The most basic routines for us as parents of our children are things we may not think about until we write them and that is what happened here! 😉

  2. I am so happy to hear that your mom is getting some strength back. This is MAJOR progress. We will keep praying for her!

    Kaia loves tubby time too, but hates having her hair washed — just like your son. We too have our tricks to get through it.

    The shaving… now THAT is pure genius! I’m going to have to try that… maybe not as appropriate with a girl, but if I can get her face clean, I’ll try anything 🙂

    Hugs to you and your family!

    • solodialogue says:

      Thanks for your prayers, Karla. We are on day 9 in the hospital. She is gaining strength but it has been a very difficult road for all of us. The day that you get shaving cream for Kaia – you MUST take pictures!! I will be ROFL when I see them – I can just imagine!! (but it is lots of sensory fun to play with that foam – and our OT uses it all the time!)

  3. Oh my goodness, that’s the first picture I’ve seen of your little boy and I love his rosy cheeks! Love the bath rituals- it’s so funny how we do all of these things for our kids and don’t think much of it until we write it all down and realize how complicated it all is! Or at least it’s like that for me. I think we have the same hair washing pitcher, and I want to try the “shaving” thing with Andrew too!

    Glad to hear your mom is improving. I hope you get some rest this weekend.

    • solodialogue says:

      Thanks Christy! I used to worry about those cheeks until Cara came along – little Sherlock Holmes and figured it out! The shaving thing is a lot of fun!! Hope to see some pictures of Andrew shaving as well!!

  4. Lizbeth says:

    Isn’t amazing when someone else points out something to you? Like your too close to it and you miss it. Yay for Cara!

    Oh the joys of the bath….Alex is seven and we’re still struggling. We’ve worked out a system to wash his hair and face without water getting near his eyes, mouth, nose, ears. Seven years and we’re still working on it. Funny thing is, he loves to go swimming—but only if the water stays away from his face! WEIRD.

    I’m glad you’re mom is making progress. Been thinking of you lots and hope the weekend sees massive improvement–hugs–L

    • solodialogue says:

      Totally yay for Cara!! That is quite a talent for Alex to swim but not get water on his face? How is that possible? Thank you for your thoughts – you have kept me going with your amazing blog!

  5. Flannery says:

    The cheeks!! Who knew? That’s funny, and helpful. What a cutie pie, even if bathtime is a bit challenging. Glad there is some improvement with your mom. Best wishes to you.

  6. You’re going to have us all checking the cheeks from now on! Pudding adores water in any way, so bath time is no issue for us. Cubby was more reluctant, but is much better these days.
    Very pleased to hear about the improvement. Hoping for much more of that! Take care of yourself, as well as everybody else.

    • solodialogue says:

      Let me know if the cheeks mean anything in your house!! Pudding is a doll – it’s great that there are no bath time issues for her. Maybe – it’s more simply a boy issue with a little ASD in the mix … Thank you for your support during this difficult time!

  7. Big Daddy says:

    Manipulating is good. Glad your mom is doing some.

  8. eof737 says:

    Now that is pretty amazing… every day I learn something new. WoW! 🙂

  9. Lisa says:

    Always late to post I’m doing some catch up here but lol I wonder if Racer and ur son are the same two ppl. Racer is the same way about his baths. Today as it was bath day I wondered if it would be a totally horrible mother thing to do and fill the tub with bubble bath and just let him soak, instead of trying to clean him off. lol

    Glad to hear that things with ur mom are getting better! (((hugs)))

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