Sensory Processing Disorder SPD and Showers

shower spd
Showers--love 'em or hate 'em


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.


About Eileen Parker 100 Articles
Support a starving writer, by buying my current book, The Weighted Blanket Guide, on Amazon. I'm a writer working on my fourth book. I live in the Twin Cities with my husband. Between us, we have four children.

5 Comments on Sensory Processing Disorder SPD and Showers

  1. Fantastic post, Ellen. Jaimie was the same way. Now she LOVES showers. She finds them comforting. Must be the way the spray ‘massages’ her. (She needs alot of input that way so I had a gut feeling that if we could get her in the shower, she’d love it. We were right!)

    Thanks for always being brave enough to tell your side of living with SPD. Very enlightening.


  2. Hi Eileen,

    Thank you for the informative post. My 5 year old son also has autism and sensory integration disorder, so your information is extremely valuable to those of us trying to relate to our kids’ senses who cannot understand from first hand experience.

    All the best to you and your business.


  3. Hello again Eileen,

    I had one other question regarding showers and sensory integration. Would you recommend a hand-held shower nozzle so that a 5 year old has control over the water flow, or would that just make life more confusing compared to a nozzle fixed low enough on the wall to be used by a child.


  4. Dave,

    I do recommend control over the shower nozzle, but I say that because I prefer it. I usually have to have the nozzle low enough so I can escape from the water when I am washing my hair.

    Ask him. Tell him that there are fun ways to take showers. I’ll let you try other ways that are more fun! If it takes experimenting with bubble bath soap in the shower to see how much it foams up, fine.

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