Thursday, April 23, 2015


It is always a blessing to see progress in your children. To see them learn a new skill that you helped them achieve after working so hard. This is even more so true with children on the autism spectrum. Because I have no idea how far Julianna will go or what she will be able to accomplish, I just have to assume that she can do everything. If I don't, I could be depriving her of something that will help her to reach her potential. She won't reach milestones at the same time as other kids, but that's okay. So far as I have raised her, I have always been guided to know when the right time is for certain milestones. And recently, she has accomplished a HUGE one that we have been working on for YEARS, and I could not be happier. Something that other moms probably don't have to teach their kids because they learn on their own by watching and observing, but for Julianna, it took LOTS of practice: taking a shower.

As you might already know from reading my blog, Julianna does not like water. She'll tolerate a bath, but when it came to pouring a cup of water over her head, she would plug her ears and close her eyes really tight, and I would have to make sure I didn't get any water on her face, especially in her eyes, because it really bothers her. Sensory issues are real! Every once in a while, I would force her to take a shower, because it's pretty much a life skill. And when I say force, I mean it. She would go in kicking and screaming, and when it came time for me to wash her hair, it always became a fight. She would be screaming, and I would be getting wet because I'd be halfway in the shower with her, and it would always be a very unpleasant experience for both of us. But I knew that we had to keep trying.

One day last fall, it occurred to me that her hair was making it very difficult to learn this shower thing, so I decided to bring her in for a haircut, and we cut it VERY short. I knew this would be the only way to help her learn to scrub her hair and get it all clean. After that, we kept trying showers at least once a week, but no progress was made at all. I was getting frustrated, and wasn't sure what to do.

In February of this year, the supervisor from her ABA therapy provider was here for a visit. She asked me if there were any new goals that we needed to start working on. I had never mentioned showering before because I assumed they couldn't help her do that. But I brought it up anyway, and said I really want to help her learn this skill, once and for all. So she and I brainstormed, and she said she would write a social story about the steps of taking a shower, and incorporate her favorite characters in the story (My Little Pony/Equestria Girls at the moment.) She would have her therapist read it at the beginning of every session and then talk about the importance of learning to shower. I thought it was a good idea, but really didn't think it would work, but at this point, I was willing to try anything. I've used social stories with her in the past to help learn other life skills, and they are helpful, but not always successful. Usually the little social stories just end up being books that Julianna liked to look at because her characters were in them!

Well, soon after her therapist starting reading the story to Julianna, Julianna asked me if she could start taking showers again. I of course agreed, and in the beginning would try to help her with the hair washing part. After just a few weeks of showers, I knew she was ready to try on her own. I told her she could print out two My Little Pony pictures if she did it all by herself. Between the social story and this reward system, it was enough to get her to do it. And ever since then, she has been able to shower all by herself! There are times she still has a little soap on her hair, and about once a week I go in there and really scrub her hair just to be sure, but she is doing all the steps by herself! This life skill can be checked off the list! The only problem we have currently is she likes to take LONG showers. So I have a kitchen timer in the bathroom and when it rings, she knows she has to start washing off. Success!!

I just love seeing progress. To see Julianna reach a huge milestone is so rewarding. It means that she really can do anything, just on her own time table. And it means I will never stop believing in what she can do. She will get to where she is supposed to be, and I am glad I can help her along the way.

No comments:

Post a Comment