A mother with a child who has SPD called the other day about a weighted blanket for her son. She was explaining her son’s difficulty, and I told her I understand because I also have SPD.
She has so many questions then, and we talked for quite a while. One of the topics that came up was showering; her son can’t stand it.
Nor can I.
It actually came up in Sensory Integration Therapy. The OT was working with me to get over the extreme aversion to water. I didn’t realize how much I reacted to it; it was upsetting actually, like I had to jerk my hand away from a fire.
She had me working up to it by having me run my hands through beans, then rice, then pliable stuff like Play-Doh, then shaving cream then water.
To this day, while I cook, I have to force myself to knead bread dough or squish hamburger to make meatballs. Cleaning fish fillets is right up there too because it’s wet. The family goes up to Canada every year fishing, and I’m the one who has a lot of experience filleting them. C’est la vie.
I have to force myself to take a shower too. It’s a necessary evil that I dread with a passion, but I relish in the feeling of being clean. It’s a mental tug of war, but inevitably, the clean wins over the distaste of water.
Back to the conversation with this boy’s mother. Here is what I told her from my experience:
- Get the bathroom warm with a heater before the shower because the clammy feeling of cold after getting out of the shower feels awful.
- Adjust the shower head so the streams of water coming out are “thicker” and have a more gentle feeling hitting the skin. The thin, hard streams of water feel like pin pricks.
- Let him pick out his own shampoo, soap, and conditioner because the scent could repel or calm him. I have a certain soap I have been using for two decades because the smell relaxes me.