So I’m reading my latest book: Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships by Dr. Temple Grandin and Sean Barron . . . and I’m loving it.
It totally resonated when I read “I think this is hogwash” (page 53 of my copy) because I completely agree! And hogwash is like the very best word EVER!
She’s referring to the expectations that we place (or don’t) on Aspies and how we sometimes allow them to be unkempt, dirty, or even smelly.
We do this for reasons, such as, “It’s who they are.”
Or, “They already went through so many battles today. We can’t do one more.”
Or even, “What’s the big deal, nobody cares about their appearance?”
There are so many battles we have to fight each day. I get it. I get it to the very most middle core of my being.
After fourteen years of raising an Aspie child and falling in love with Aspie men (what is that all about anyway?!?!), I now fully believe that social expectations and etiquette need to be a “thing.” Like, a thing that we focus on and really actively work toward each and every day.
It’s things like personal hygiene, appropriate clothing, greetings and salutations, and all the other details that create positive social interactions that we need to commit to.
I know, I know: “He loves that shirt and it’s the only one that he’ll wear!” Well, fine, but make sure it’s clean and fresh each day.
“But she hates taking a shower and screams so loud when it’s time.” Well, I don’t know what will work for your child, but I feel confident there’s a solution to the difficulties of hygiene, hair washing/brushing, using deoderant, etc.
Our Aspie friends, who already start with strikes against them socially, have a strong need for us to go the extra mile to teach them appropriate hygiene.
3 Ways to Set Your Expectations
My kids dress nicely and shower at least every other day. If we’re going to a fancy function, they are required to dress appropriately.
Did Michael used to squawk about this? Sometimes (and loudly). Do I buy him scratchy shirts? Nope, I buy the softest ones I can find within reason.
Setting expectations can be difficult with heightened sensory issues, but we all live together, and society has some unspoken expectations . . . some healthy and some not.
- Create goals that are manageable. I know we’ve heard it before, but there are helpful resources for Aspies to reach their goals.
- Communicate the goals and the reasons behind the goals (For example, if you smell good, people will be more likely to have pleasant faces around you). I’m a firm believer in front loading if that works for your child (some need last-minute notices to reduce anxiety) and I feel that if the Aspie knows, understands, and agrees with the end result, you might be confounded with the way they decide to achieve the goal. Because so often the way you thought you would need to go to get there might be something you never, ever, ever could have thought of. I’ve seen thinking outside of the box as one of the superpowers of so many Aspies time and again.
- Bring everything you do with as much love as possible. When you’re trying to learn a new skill or overcome a sensory issue in order to have healthier hygiene habits (say that “healthier hygiene habits” 10 times fast), try to communicate with as much love and kindness as you can muster. Take a break if you can’t, remember to breath, but keep your eye on the prize (the end result). You’ll all get there.
Per usual, I want to remind you that you are perfect right here and right now.
Your current hygiene habits are fine. If you need to increase the number of showers per week, then that can be your new goal. If you need to rotate in new clothing, then let that be your goal. If you’re doing great in the personal hygiene area, then focus on something else you’d love to see improved upon.
This life is a continual journey. Those of us with autism in the mix probably find it just a bit more energetic and colorful!
Don’t let life be hogwash!
Love, love, hugs, love,
One of the resources I linked to above references Nelson Mandela. Check out my reviews page for more information on that book!
Oh, and Facebook is where I hang out most of the time. Join me over there for some chatting and shared information you might enjoy.
And you’re awesome!
And there are affiliate links when I recommend a book. If you click and purchase, I might get a shmitten of money to feed my book addiction. Score!