Personal grooming has always been an issue for Bruiser. He’s never liked it. But, its fair to say that a lot of children don’t when they are very little. I can remember that Wriggler didn’t like it at all. Bruiser however, it isn’t just for instance, the hair washing. It starts before he even has to get in the bath. It’s not something we can just spring on him. Like most things, he needs to be prepared for it and it has to be when he agrees to it.
Over the last two years we have worked tirelessly trying to desensitise Bruiser to being wet, touching bubbles, cleaning himself. Whilst we have made great progress, nothing much seems to have worked in relation to the personal grooming aspect. Recently his Daddy managed to get somewhere with him and started counting him down to hair washing once he was in the bath and counting him down to the last jug of water over his head. Although it hasn’t taken away all the anguish, it’s helping.
Bruisers Occupational Therapist (OT) has advised that part of the problem is Bruiser not being in control, not knowing when something is going to happen. In essence its the unpredictability of certain situations that he doesn’t like and this in turn causes him a great deal of anxiety (ie how many times will we pour water on his head, how hard soft will the pressure from our fingers be on his head), which is why he resists.
As part of the process towards getting a diagnosis, Bruiser underwent a sensory profiling with his Occupational Therapist (OT). The sensory profile report didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know but it did confirm things. As a result of the profiling report though, his OT was able to put in place some strategies to help Bruiser in his everyday tasks. We are now using the stickids programme which his OT has tailored just for him.
One of the strategies she talked us through is teaching him the skills to do things for himself sooner than most children would ordinarily do them. This will give Bruiser the confidence to do things for himself and be more independent and thus reduce the anxiety that he feels during these tasks.
As a result; recently we got our first tears free, stress free bath time. Bruiser CHOSE to go in the bath one afternoon. He CHOSE to wash his hair on his own (I helped on his instruction a teeny tiny bit).
He CHOSE to tip jugs of water over his head.
He CHOSE to clean himself.
He CHOSE to use the blow dryer after!!
Whilst this isn’t always the case, his confidence to do things for himself is growing. I have to admit *sniff sniff* that im starting to feel more and more redundant in some areas. He has even started taking himself to bed. He brushes his own teeth, gets into bed, reads himself a story (now he can’t read but he knows the stories in his books to heart so uses the pictures as prompts to tell him whats happening as he turns each page). Then he goes to sleep.
Now he doesn’t seem to have a problem with any of this. Its his choice. I do find it quite upsetting that he doesn’t need/want a big cuddle at bedtime, Wriggler at 8 still wants the comfort of bedtime snuggles with a book. I’m sure in time I will get used to his increased independence but for now I just need to cheer him on from the sidelines because he’s doing an amazing job!