Kids Grow Up

Amy Baskin's blog on parenting young adults with special needs

Do you help with hair washing?

Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget via Flickr

This morning, as I kissed Tal goodbye I noticed her hair looked slick.“Did you wash your hair last night?” I asked while swiping her hair with a brush.

Turns out she did. Completely independently, as a matter of fact. Like many individuals with ASD, my daughter has challenges with fine motor skills and body awareness. So, tasks like hair-washing and rinsing are tricky.

If I’m home when Tal showers, I often poke my head in to help her to rinse her hair. But since I was out for dinner last night with some Autism Ontario moms, I wasn’t home for shower duty.

Tal was happy to have me out of her hair. “I need privacy, Mom,” she says.

She’s right. Proud of her independence, she doesn’t want stalker-mom lurking in the shower. So, my daughter is off to school with sketchy hair today. And likely school staff will wonder why MOM didn’t wash her daughter’s hair last night. I didn’t because my daughter washed her OWN hair. By herself. And the skill of hair-washing is a work in progress.

And there’s the rub. It’s always a fine balance between helping our adult children and letting them be independent.  And that goes for everything from hair-washing to making a snack. Often, I know I need to back off. Our sons and daughters deserve the right to have a bad hair day. Just like anyone else.

Do you help your son or daughter with self-care skills? Any tips or ideas for increasing independence?


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One thought on “Do you help with hair washing?

  1. Sixty-Something Soccer Mom on said:

    Just happened upon this blog today — oh, happy discovery! My daughter — now age 27 and happens to have Down Syndrome — struggled with hair washing, too, but now she’s an ace. Well, let me be honest, it was I who struggled with her hair-washing skills! We had those “slick hair mornings” — she has oily hair. It was her too-gentle scrubbing that was the problem. Actually, the scrubbing was pretty much nonexistent. My smart I-can-fix-anything husband had a solution: a TOOL ! Don’t get me started on men and tools. He found little plastic hair scrubbers — who knew? These were too tough for my daughter’s sensitive little head, but then we found one with bigger, more rounded, oh what’s the word — bristles. Thanks to this new scrubber tool, my daughter’s hair was coming out squeaky, shiny clean.

    It IS a process, but my personal feeling is that we owe our special needs children every opportunity to look and act as normal as possible. That way, the so-called normal people around them will be as comfortable and accepting as we’d like them to be. With my daughter — just as with my so-called normal teenage son — I often feel I’m teetering on a tightrope. Finding a balance between adequate guidance (from us) and adequate feelings of autonomy (for our kids) is never easy.

    The Sixty-Something Soccer Mom

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