Thursday 17 January 2019

Eight ways to help keep our sensory kids clean

Duck in bubbles

My kids have autism, but many kids struggle with teeth cleaning and bathing.  Here I've got some ideas to help with everything from disliking toothpaste to struggles like getting upset because the kids have got water on their face.

When it comes to ablutions, my kids have struggles that are both sensory seeking (they wish to have lots of feeling) and sensory sensitive or averse (they dislike the way something feels).  And they have this to the point where it can be upsetting for them or that will disengage from getting clean altogether.  Some of the time we've been able to introduce things slowly but it's not been easy and sometimes it causes too much stress.

Both boys are sensory seekers and sensory sensitive so different tactics and products work for each of them.  And sometimes their systems turn around and they'll need a different approach on a different day! I'm covering both types, but you may find one tactic works one day and the other another.

Problems and solutions for the sensory sensitive

Helpful items for the sensory sensitive

1. The toothpaste burns my mouth

It took us ages to figure out that David wouldn't allow a toothbrush in his mouth because it was covered in toothpaste. He'd cry and we'd see him scratching at his tongue.  Not being able to brush your kids teeth is a big deal. Poor David had three extractions when he was five years old and I felt like the worst mother in the world. The experience of taking him to hospital and have a general anaesthetic for something that could be easily prevented was awful.

Then we found Oranurse toothpaste.   This completely changed everything.  This is a white, flavourless toothpaste, that also doesn't foam.  It means there is nothing to react to when brushing teeth and it finally meant we could clean David's teeth.  Four years later and there's no sign of any cavities.

There are other flavours of toothpaste that could be tried too, but if changing toothpaste doesn't help it might be worth looking at the toothbrush. Sometimes, it's difficult for kids with sensory issues to actually tell what the uncomfortable feeling is. They may think their mouth is burning, but it could be the way some toothbrushes feel.

An electric toothbrush is brilliant at keeping teeth clean but can make your mouth feel strange, and even a regular toothbrush can be sharp if it has hard bristles.   David uses a child's toothbrush like this which has softer bristles that are also angled to help with cleaning.  There is even a two sided toothbrush that is available to help clean more sides faster.  We've also used a super soft toothbrush for when they kids are really sensitive.

For kids that get easily frustrated, a kids flashing timer toothbrush might help distract them.  Our one has three colours that flash for 20 seconds each giving Jane a count down of how long the brushing is going to last.  This great teeth-brushing pictorial schedule can help kids be more independent or just know what's happening so they are less nervous about the activity.

2. The bubbles are scratchy

Finally got the kids in the bath and then one says that the bubbles are scratchy?  Well some soaps are definitely kinder to skin than others.  Trying an all natural PH balanced or extra soft bubble bath can help with this.

However, it can often the case that it's not actually the bubbles that's the issue - it's the water.  If the water is too hot then the bursting bubbles will be popping against skin that's actually being irritated by the heat of the water.  The easiest and best solution may simply be to lower the temperature of the bath.  This temperature telling duck  can give an exact read out for you.

3. The water stings by eyes and hurts my face

This is probably one of the most common issues and spreads out into everything.  We didn't really deal with it full on until Anthony started swimming lessons when we decided we would really try to help him cope with getting his face wet.  It took a lot of work and getting used to but he got their in the end and was spurred on by being able to swim better.

However, Anthony's younger brother is not motivated in a similar way.  He's also pre-verbal meaning its hard to figure out how to help.  If he's screaming and crying and trying to get out of the bath every time we try we try to wash his hair then we have to find another solution.

There are a couple of different bath caps and hats that you can try.  Some of them create a waterfall around you and others are focused very much on making the water fall back over your head instead of into your eyes. Both are worth a go if you think it will help.

However, if shampooing in the bath or shower is simply not an option then you can try Dignity waterless shampoo. This removes the need for any shampooing or rinsing. Unlike dry shampoo which is for sprucing up between washes, waterless shampoo can be used indefinitely.  It goes on dry hair like a mousse, brushed through and then towel or air-dried out. You can get a pictorial instruction sheet for your kids to follow which is great.  If your kids are really averse to hair washing then this could be your answer.  Dignity also help you build your own sensory bundle which is helpful is thinking about what you might need.

4. The towel hurts my skin

One of my kids once said that I 'brushed them dry'.  Kids skin is often quiet sensitive when they come out of a bath or shower as the skin is warmer and has been scrubbed or cleaned.  Rubbing their skin with a towel may dry them off but it can also feel very uncomfortable.

I've always had to use great products for washing the kids clothes and towels which are good for their sensitive skin.  However, they don't make the fluffiest of towels.  You can try adding a fabric conditioner like Surcare or even popping towels into the dryer for a few minutes to fluff them up.

Dabbing the kids dry instead of rubbing them helps of course.  Failing this you could try a micro fibre towel.  These are extremely soft and dry you very quickly.

Problems and solutions for the sensory seeker

Sensory seeker bathing products

1. They are still covered in soap

Sounds strange but I'd get Anthony out of the bath only to discover he's still covered in some soap!  Many soaps are just not tactile enough for him to want to wash with or visible enough for him to know where he's still got soap on his body.

Fun soap like Professor Scrubbington's magically foaming body wash makes it easy to spot on the kids bodies and as it's super foamy is fun to use, appealing to the sensory seekers side.  Putting soap onto a kids bath mitt can help too - just make sure the kids don't scrub too hard.

2. I love splashing

Whereas one of my kids cries with the tiniest drop of water splashing them, the other can't stop splashing.  In fact it's more like a wave machine or shower in the bath.

A shower curtain can help contain the water to the bath area, and a clear shower curtain means you can see the kids from all angles even if you are having to hang around at one end of the bath. Make sure to get one that's mould / mildew resistant though if it's going to spend a while hanging around in the bath.

A good tip is to trim the bottom so it's long enough to be inside the bath and down to water level but short enough that it's not flapping around in the water.  Suckers attached to the bottom can also help it stay against the bath if you are having difficulty with the curtain being played with.  We cover the floor in towels which cuts down on slips when getting out too.

An alternative is to use a shower. Walk in showers can be really helpful as it means the kids who have motor skills challenges can get in and out easily - and we can get in to help them if we need to!  They are also often completely enclosed which means the water stays inside the shower enclosure for the best part.

3. I've turned pink

One of the reasons kids can be sensory seekers is because their system doesn't register 'soft touch'.  They need a squeezy hug because they don't feel hugged otherwise, they need flavourful food because otherwise they don't taste it.  When it's come to getting in the bath this lack of sense can be  applied to sensing temperature.  Put simply my son couldn't tell when the water was too hot for him.  He'd get in and then turn pink.

Being a little pink might not seem much of a problem, but kids, especially young ones, can overheat very easily.  In some cases it could mean my son wouldn't realise the water was hot enough to burn him.  Of course it's important to monitor the kids when running the bath but the temperature telling duck  might be useful in making sure they don't stick their hands into the water.

We've got this simple duck that shows the word hot when it's too hot for a baby bath.  It's an easy visual cue for my kids and I can get them to check 'the ducks butt' as part of the routine of bathing.  they find it hilarious, but if the word 'hot' is on the duck they know they can't touch the water yet.

4.  The bath is boring

Splashing and getting bored can be because there just isn't enough sensory feedback to keep the kids in the bath.  There are helpful ways to appeal to their senses.  Some kids who really enjoy lights may enjoy some light up bath toys.  We had a clown fish that looked like Nemo and some other sea creatures that flashed when they went in the water and which were quite fun.

The kids have also loved washing with the magically foaming soaps and shampoos from Professor Scrubbingtons Emporium of Clean. These bath, body and hair care products cover everything from soap to 2:1 shampoo and conditioner.  They are made from natural ingredients and designed for kids to wash themselves by bursting as foam out of the bottle.  Foam makes the whole washing process fun and entertaining.

If you can't get your kid into a bath at all then what about the idea of colouring the bath water?  OK, might need to do more washing washing but initially this could get them into the bath. Zimpli kids do both a bathtime range of safe bath colours or even slime that you could try for a sensory treat.

Our Professor Scrubbingtons Emporium of Clean Hamper Giveaway has now closed.

Conditions: UK Residents only. Entrants must be aged over 18. Entry is via Rafflecopter. Entries can be made up until midnight on Friday 1st February 2019. One winner will be chosen from all valid entries at random the day after closing. The winner will be contacted within a week of the closing date and have one week to respond. The Prize is one Professor Scrubbingtons Hamper as shown above. Prize is sent direct from Professor Scrubbingtons. The exact contents of the could change with an alternative product of similar or higher value sent included. No cash alternative.

We were sent some of the products mentioned above for purposes of review and bought some others. We are delighted to include them in my independent post.


  1. I think they are great ideas.

  2. Scrubbington's Magically Foaming 2in1 Shampoo & Conditioner !

  3. Really good ideas and already big fans of Scrubbington's here! x

  4. Some lovely bath time treats in your hamper #KCACOLS

  5. These are marvelous ideas! Light up bath toys are fun!


  6. Fantastic ideas! I might try the flavourless toothpaste myself as I have a deep seated aversion to mint toothpaste. Thank you for sharing #KCACOLS

  7. It's so great that there are solutions 'out there' these days to make your family's life that bit easier. #kcacols

  8. Goodness, i'd never have realised the issues which you highlight. I love the ideas though and what great ways for making bathtime and the routine a bit easier #KCACOLS

  9. This is a really useful post. I have heard good things about Professor scrubington's products.

  10. Such clever and useful ideas for any other parents with children with autism and those who don't, after all, all parents look for things to create an easier life! LOL #KCACOLS

  11. I think these are great ideas, especially the flashing toothbrush to distract xx

  12. #kcacools I had never heard of a tasteless toothpaste, that is genius.

  13. An enlightening post with great ideas. Love Professor Scrubbington's products.

  14. These are all great ideas. Some lovely treats in the hamper too!
    (popping back because I thought I'd commented earlier in the week but don't think it worked!)

  15. there are so many things about children on the spectrum that I never would have thought about if it wasn't for post like this. Keep up the good work #kcacols

  16. There must be a lot of trial and error finding things that work for you. #BloggerClubUK

  17. I found your post so interesting. I’d never considered that the feeling of bubbles popping against your skin could irritate people. Never tried the products but they do look nice. #KCACOLS

  18. This is so helpful, I love the idea of a temperature duck. I hadn't considered the feel of the bubbles so will keep this in mind.

    It is so helpful to share the little things we learn about sensory issues xx

  19. My children don't have autism but they struggle with using certain toothpastes, soaps, and hate getting water in their eyes! Will definitely try out a few of these tips! #KCACOLS

  20. My granddaughter is not autistic, but hates having her hair washed as she is frightened of shampoo getting in her eyes (even though we use a no-tears shampoo), so I can empathise with the issue you face. I find that a rolled up flannel across her forehead usually works. It's as much as a mental issue as a physical one, so long as she is convinced that there is a barrier so the shampoo can't reach her eyes, then she is ok.

  21. I'd never thought about the towels - that's really interesting. #KCACOLS

  22. I'd never thought about a lot of the stuff here and what you've gone through and how you've had to had to adapt every day - for things some of us just take for granted. My son hates brushing his teeth even at the age of 9 and every day is a struggle. I think he once had to use a strong toothpaste at a sleepover when he was younger and has been panicky about new brands/flavours ever since x #KCACOLS

  23. Oohhh, I would love to try the Cotton Soft Bubble Bath

  24. Such great ideas

  25. Some very interesting ideas here for my ASD little one. Some things I hadn't considered but make sense. I will try the tip for putting the towel in the dryer before I pat their skin dry tonight.

  26. I think these are a fantastic idea, they are sure to make bath time more fun.

  27. My daughter has Asperger Syndrome and is extremely sensory, these hints and tips are absolutely amazing and so useful

  28. great ideas and avery helpful post i enjoyed reading x

  29. It was another joy to see your post about this Machine Room Cleaning topic. It is such an important topic and ignored by so many, even professionals. I thank you to help making people more aware of possible issues. Great stuff as usual...

  30. All of the above ideas are awesome. Cleaning babies are so tough job. My brother is also facing the same issue. Thank you for listing out the solutions for the sensory seekers. dental implants roanoke va

  31. Very efficiently written information. It will be beneficial to anybody who utilizes it, including me. Keep up the good work. For sure i will check out more posts. This site seems to get a good amount of visitors. How to Clean Shower Curtain with Bleach

  32. If you are looking for more information about flat rate locksmith Las Vegas check that right away. How to Clean a Shower Curtain without Taking It Down

  33. Nilaqua Towel Off Shampoo is amazing, they have been using it in the NHS for years!!! They also have a body wash too


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