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:
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.]