This week for my adulting post, I am going to write about grooming an autistic self. For autistics, we can either excel or lack in this regard. Sometimes it is a sensory issue, however if one lacks the willingness to clean one self, then they are pictured as lazy or unwilling to do so. However, there are a multitude mostly related to the senses that can make an autistic refrain from cleaning themselves up.
For me, I didn’t learn to use the shower until I was 11 with my parents bathing me until that point, even at that, I feared my shower routine because the water felt heavy and my parents had the rule of turning on the ventilation fan when showering. This rule affected my sensitivity to noise because the sound of the ventilation fan was difficult for me to tolerate. Regardless, I got by and sometimes I would be sent back to re-shower if I didn’t meet my parents’ standard (which was high) because they didn’t think I smelled nice enough. This isn’t a critique on my parents as they are awesome cheerleaders in what I do. It was just frustrating because I would put in what I would think was a great effort to only have to do it better and be ridiculed.
Next, came the onset of puberty and the growth of facial hair, something that I still struggle with regularly. I have a hard time over the years comprehending the need to shave often as it reduces the pain when doing it and the clogging of disposable razors, excessive cleanup. As embarrassing as it seems up until my adult years when we would go on special occasions, my parents would shave me. I know what it is like when autistics that cannot comprehend the skill to shave on their own would experience and I can tell you that it was embarrassing but it is something that is needed to be done.
Recently I fully switched to an electric razor more often, however most times this would be more difficult as I would go over a week without shaving, again needing to use a combination of this and disposable razors. This made me more frustrated as I just couldn’t comprehend the need of shaving regularly. I don’t mind shaving; I know that I do not look nice with facial hair as it grows sporadically and at different lengths. I know by looking clean shaven that I look presentable and others will be nicer to me. Sad as it sounds, it’s the truth just as being overweight or other visible effects of the human body.
Recently, I accidentally threw away my electric razor, so by default had to order one, which I did through Amazon. There’s something about this electric razor, the tone, less pain, etc. that makes it easier to operate and less painstaking to get through the shaving process. I hope that I can stick with it because I know it is an adult responsibility and I become more attractive when my face is clean because it is what people look at when they are talking to me.
I know that shaving myself isn’t the only grooming barrier that autistics face. Brushing teeth can be another hurdle. It was for me. I had braces in Junior High and because of the lack of care to them, they were a complete waste of Medicaid dollars. I didn’t realize that as a 16-year-old boy but now realize that at 35 that I should have been more cognizant of taking care of my braces because that was a one and only chance of having a better smile. Now the only thing I can do in this regard is to take care of my teeth, of which I really need to visit a dentist. Many autistics. Myself included fear the dentist as it can be a dramatic and a trip of sensory overload. I know that my last dentist isn’t working and I need to find one that isn’t as overbearing. I still have a baby tooth that never came out and its OK. I don’t have a lot of sweets, soda is my only vice and I have only had one small cavity in my adult years, but I do know that I need to find a dentist that will meet my needs.
Gladly, I am getting in the shower more routinely. It is getting better understanding the benefits along with adjusting how to effectively temper the water in my home in order to feel comfortable when showering. Being on my own is a bonus, but ultimately being able to get in fresh garments is a benefit for me in exchange for ones that have been worn exhaustively, especially since I have been walking more frequently. It is my body and I need to take care of all aspects of it so I can remain health in ALL aspects.
I know I didn’t give any tips on how to improve in the grooming regard, however I wanted to share with you some of the barriers that I have when it comes to grooming myself properly and on a routine basis.