Sometimes, upcoming personal hygiene and bathroom morning/night routines freeze us autistic people in place. Struggles in this area tend to center around two big factors: sensory sensitivities and task initiation. Task initiation is the executive functioning skill of motivating ourselves to take on new tasks and to pursue them to completion, even if obstacles enter our path. Here are a few ways to manage sensory and initiation difficulties in order to be clean, fresh, and overall just feel better in our bodies:
1) Evaluate the bathroom environment. Is it well lit for your personal sensitivities? Is the floor cold and needs a bath mat? Does it need a deep clean? How long does it take for the water to heat up? Could some soft music help? Pinpointing these sensory exacerbations and taking action long before hygiene activities need to happen helps to preemptively set us up for success.
2) When are hygiene routines started? If it changes every day, that might make doing them even harder. For me, I start my morning routine the moment I wake up, before breakfast or water or anything you can think of! I jump out of bed and into the bathroom. Nighttime is harder. In my routine, I wait until I start to feel bored with whatever I’m doing at around 8:30 PM, and I harness that boredom to push myself into the bathroom.
3) How much do you enjoy the items you use in your hygiene routines? Face washes, loofahs, creams, and even deodorants connected to your special interests may help boost the desire to see (and use) those items. Switching these things up whenever it feels comfortable to do so may also add another layer of motivation.