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Washing Your Hands - Sounds Simple, Right?

Ann Hickman by Ann Hickman Additional Needs

Ann Hickman

Ann Hickman

Mum to three, special educational needs writer and part-time tutor

When they were born, they all popped out ‘physically healthy’.

Ten fingers, ten toes as the midwife said.

As they all grew and developed, we’ve tried to help look after their health and we’ve been fortunate in that generally we aren’t the family that picks up bugs or sickness, we aren’t always full of colds and snot.

But some of the basic things to help us not get sick are difficult for our boys who have autism.

Take something simple, like washing your hands for example.

Before eating, after the loo, perhaps even after going to medical appointments or visiting big public places and attractions?

Seems simple enough, unless you are our Anthony or David.

Anthony has ASD and was diagnosed with ADHD around seven.

His ADHD diagnosis was put him at the extreme end of the scale.

One could argue his ADHD was a greater challenge than his autism.  What good are routines to help with autism of Anthony constantly gets distracted and can’t finish them.

And so, it is with hand washing.

If I ask him to wash his hands in the kitchen and there is anything between him and the sink, it won’t happen.

I’ve found him tying his shoe laces in the hall, pouring himself a drink or even playing on the iPad whilst stood next to the sink.

David on the other hand, as another child with autism, really struggles with routine and generalising sometimes.

He’ll wash his hands in the sink at school, but not the sink at home.

Or he’ll only wash his hands if a certain towel is there, or a certain soap, or if you ask in a certain way.

Put this together with the fact that David id pre-verbal and can’t tell you what isn’t where it should be and it’s a big guessing game that will can result in him running away and me chasing him with baby wipes.

All I can do though is support the boys.

Their sister helps by setting examples, and she’ll let Anthony wash his hands first so he ‘doesn’t forget’ while she does it.

And David is just going to take time and practice.


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