Autism Community
autistic son really hates bath!!!!!!
About This Community:

This forum is for questions and support regarding ADHD, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Blindness, Bullying, Causes of Autism, Autism Therapies, Clinical Depression, Deafness, Dyslexia, Isolation, Mental Retardation, Social Alienation.

Font Size:
Blank Blank

autistic son really hates bath!!!!!!

hi, my 3 1/2 yr old son is autistic and also has sensory problems,
he cant stand bathing!!!!
i can only get him to stand in the bath to wash him down but he spends the whole time screeching until i finish,
i have tried a special water proof light that puts on a light show in the bathroom but nothing seems to take his mind off it!!!!
has anyone else had this problem, and if so how did you overcome it??????
Related Discussions
11 Comments Post a Comment
470168 tn?1237474845
Do you have any idea of what about the bathing environment upsets him?
Is your son very tactile defensive?  As I presume if he is standing only, there is something about the wet sensation that he doesn't like?
I presume you mean he hates the bath rather than showering?
Is your son verbal?  If so can he give you any ideas about what he doesn't like about it?
My son has problems with transitions.  So I find it hard to get him in the bath, then when he is in I find it hard to get him out!
Will he play with water ie. play with toys in the sink?
Do you use any bath foam?  If so could he object to the smell of it?
Bathing usually involves a number of things that they find difficult ie. washing hair, cutting nails etc.  Then afterwards there is combing hair, towel drying.  It might be that he has anxiety about any aspect of the bathtime ritual.  If he will take part in water play, then you know it is not the water itself.  However make sure the temperature is at what he likes.  If he is anxious about hair washing/nail cutting then don't cut nails in the bath and cut hair washing down to a minimum.  Then get some advice from OT about getting him prepared for these sensations at bath time.  There are all kinds of things you can do.  We used to press on each of his finger nails to get him used to the idea of nail cutting.  You can also wrap him up in towels, give him oil massages, gently massage his scalp to get him used to the hair washing sensation.  You can smell soaps and shower gels to find one he likes.  You can brush sponges on his skin.
Can you give us any more information about what you suspect is his difficulties?
Avatar f tn
my son has no speech or understanding, he loves playin with water as long as he doesnt have to get into it,
he plays mostly in the water tray every day at nursery, and is usually wet when i lift him!!!
he will not shower!! goes crazy if i try it!!
im not sure why he doesnt like the bath, because he has no speech.
i have tried brushing him and playing with cloths and sponges on his skin, i will try massage on his scalp and smelling soaps.

thanx so much for taking time to respond!
470168 tn?1237474845
If he likes water play, then that is a positive thing.  In the summertime does it get hot enough for him to play in a paddling pool?  Does he appear over/under sensitive to feeling hot or cold.  Will he walk around the house with nothing on, or does he always appear to need to be covered up?  Would you be able to put him in the bath just to sit and play without any water?  Do you think he has any visual perceptual problems.  If he will sit in the bath and play then you could try pouring some warm water into the bath and see how he reacts.  
365714 tn?1292202708
Could it be the temperature?  I am rather picky about temperature if I have to get my whole body soaked.  For me that means a pretty hot shower or bath.  If it feels too cold then I won't be in or I'll be draining the water or turning on the hot water to get it warmer.

Also I don't like in winter cold air contrasting with the warm shower or the water temp when it first turns on.  I usually flinch when the water turns on and is cold, then shiver when I'm ready to come out.

As far as showering or bathing, I prefer showering because that seems to keep my body consistently warm. When in a bath, parts of my body are warm, but the parts in the air feel cold.
614508 tn?1265285322
What we tried with our son is bathing with him...we started out with just an inch or two of water in the tub and wash cloths to wet in the warm water to put on his back and tummy (& mine) to slowly integrate him into the  water. (Much like you do with a new born). We also tried soothing music in the background but found sometimes this was too stimulating. We also had the bath water drawn before we went in as the sound is sometimes frightening and didn't add water until he was comfortable in the tub. We used sponges, small cups etc to see the water cascade (saying up/down) as we slowly lowered ourselves into the water.
Eventually we progress so that Liam could lay in between my legs with his head on my tummy (still wouldn't put his head back in the water). That way, he felt very secure.
Liam still won't put his head underwater and is uable to determine where the faucet is if his eyes are closed but his is able to bathe with some assistance.  Hope this helps a little.
732810 tn?1232133154
I have had some families that I work with that had this issue. When looking further into it, the vibrations and way the sounds are different within a bathroom and/or tub made a huge effect on the overstimulation. The family began using a basin in a more comfortable setting starting with warm water and rewarding him after he alloed his face or body to be washed...this took time and patience, and slowly the basin/small tub was moved slowly towards the bathroom. Depending on how your son seems to accept it, may determine how quickly he moves towards the bathroom. Then eventually, they were at least able to do sponge baths in the bathroom. Maybe the feel of water is too much, but different types of water absorbant materials may help: loofa, spongy face exfoliators that may help take his mind off of the water. I saw you tried massage and brushing. I know it is hard. Just keep trying. Go with what your child feels most comfortable with and move with him. This will give him more trust in the situation and more likely to be open to moving towards your overall goal.
Hope that helps.
Avatar f tn
My son would not bathe in unfamiliar places when he was 3-3.5 y.o, now he loves baths and takes too many of them...Just do not stress over the whole thing, keep trying, make it a mandatory thing he cannot get out of
325405 tn?1262293778
My mom said I hated bathing when I was a baby, a small child, and then growing up.  I still hate showering but I do it anyways, though not every day.  My daughter also has some issues with bathing, but my mom was able to help me with suggestions that she had to figure out.  My mom said for a stretch, she'd bath me once per month because the neighbors thought she was abusing me I'd scream so loudly they could hear.  She had to invite some of them over to witness me in the bathtub to allay their fears of her being abusive.  

Things that bothered me and still do, that also bother my daughter:

1.  The hair washing.  
A.  Find a shampoo that is unscented and child friendly.  I use the unscented Aveeno baby wash on my 3 year old girl still, even for shampooing.  
B.  Dumping the water over the head to wash out the shampoo is really scary.  Not only getting in the face, but getting near the ears can be really annoying.  My mother found that with me she had to take a washcloth and put it near my forehead and carefully pour water over.  She also found that as I got older, she could wash my hair in the kitchen sink with a special chair that was higher up (kind of like in a hair cutting place).  As an adult, believe it or not, when I shower, I hang my head forward and rinse my hair upside down.  It's still annoying, but I really hate getting water near my face and ears.  I only wash my hair twice per week (I take a bath the other days since it's easier).

2.  The bathtub can smell.  Now that there are lots of organic cleansers out there, using them helps keep a tub clean without the amonia (ammonia) or bleach smell.  If you don't clean it enough then you get mildewy smell.  Having a clean tub without the chemical smells I find very important.

3.  The bathtub can sometimes seem a bit clostrophobic.  My daughter hates having the shower curtain anywhere near her.  Since we use the same bathroom, I have to tie it back.

4.  Not knowing what to expect --  my daughter has this issue.  I used to do a picture board of bathtime so she'd know what to expect.  I took pictures of her to show the process and used self-laminating paper and then some double sided tape and slapped the photos on a piece of heavy weight construction paper. Then laminated that so it wouldn't get wet and ruined from the bath.  

5.  Temperature of the water and of the room.  You don't want it too hot like a sauna, and of course not too cold either.  You want it just right, like baby bear would have it.  

Bathing is a hard one for people with sensory issues.  learning how to figure out ways to overcome some of these things for your child is important. I remember having a very hard as I got older.  I didn't shower until I was around 12.  My mom had to wash my hair in the kitchen sink until that point.  Transitioning to the shower was very hard.  A shower makes a lot of noise (good to find a shower head that is quiet).  Our old house had a shower that would make this squeek if you had it on the wrong amount of water coming out at a hotter temperature.  WOuldn't happen when I showered, but my husband every time he showered he just didn't hear the noise but I'd have to go in the shower and tell him to fix it.  I'm glad we don't live there anymore.  Anyways, I'm digressing... bathtime, showering, etc. will probably have a lot of things for you to figure out raising your child, and you will probably have more problems as he gets older and has to transition to a shower.  I'm really not sure when kids go to the shower.  I think 12 is kind of on the older side, though, but I'm really not sure.  
Avatar n tn
I have the same problem with my 5 year old autistic son!!!!
Firstly, I bough a baby bath and put it in the living room, I had the TV on, and I made him a special visual timetable for bathing so it showed a picture of the bath, a picture of body wash etc and I showed him a number of times before him getting in it what was going to happen when he got in. I started by filling it up, one inch, him standing in it and screaming blue murder, I let him get out as soon as he wanted (which was usually within 2 seconds) as not to associate bathing with feeling upset. If he has a baby bath in the living room with his favourite tv show on and only an inch of water he may get distracted or associate bathing with fun things, every couple of days add an extra inch into the baby bath, dont force him to sit in it though, just let him get out when he wants, praise him every single time he goes into the water, offer him a 'reward', i used to give my son a piece of string each time he stood in the water - even for a second, he is obsessed with string, this also encouraged him to get in as he knew he would get a reward straight away for doing it. after about one month, put the baby bath into the main bath, fill it up as it was, plus add an inch into the main bath, and gradually the main bath will be full enough to take the baby bath out.
hope it works for you.
Avatar f tn
Oh, how nice to find this forum!
It is a struggle to bathe our 2,5 old autistic son.
We´ve gotten him to the point where sitting in the tub and playing is fine....but when it comes to hair wash-time, one would think it´s torture.
We´re at our wit´s end, as he does need a hair wash now and then....we´ve tried to be in the tub with him, music, DVD by the tub to distract - which helped a little.....but we think it´s the sensation of either 1.) water on his face (he refuses to use those face protectors for babies) or 2.) to gently be held down while rinsing.
He has issues anyway about being held down in any form, temperature measurements, diaper change, medicine for eye infection, and so on....

I am not happy that others also go through this, but it is a relief to know we are not alone :)
1244180 tn?1325902711
my son is almost 6 and washing his hair is still a major battle... i just do it as quick as possible. I use a plastic cup and tilt his head to try and avoid water going in his face

having an autistic child is a big battle but it will get easier! my son was diagnosed before he was 2 and back then he was terrible to deal with! i have had several black eyes from him and his tantrums... at this point i have mentally prepared myself to know that the day will eventually come to an end and i will get a break... just keep in your mind that it will get better and the more you work with him the better it will get... my son was not verbal 2 years ago and now he will talk and say pretty much any word normal kids say although his speech is very unclear i am his translator lol
Post a Comment
Weight Tracker
Weight Tracker
Start Tracking Now
Autism Community Resources