Autism is more prevalent than many realize. While it may seem like a rare condition, statistics show that 1 in 36 children in the United States receives a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The severity of ASD can significantly impact daily functioning and hinder an individual’s ability to live independently. Routine tasks such as cooking, cleaning, maintaining personal hygiene, and employment can be profoundly affected, making the journey to becoming self-sufficient adults more challenging for children with ASD. Here, we’ll understand the relationship between high functioning autism and personal hygiene, so we can find ways to tackle this challenge affecting your daily lives.
Staying on Top of Your Hygiene: Autism and Cleanliness
Staying healthy and clean when you have autism can be tricky. Everyone faces unique challenges in this area, and some people can handle it on their own. But, let’s talk about some common problems that people with autism might encounter.
For some, talking about their pain or discomfort is hard because they may lack communication skills or not fully understand what’s happening. In such cases, their behavior might be the only clue that something’s wrong. If they start acting strangely, like getting upset or staying away from others, it’s a sign to check in on them. You could ask if they’re in pain and where it hurts. Sometimes, you might need to use pictures or other tools to figure out the problem.
The Importance of Hygiene in Adults with Autism
In addition to the usual cleaning and tidying up, folks with ASD must think about their surroundings for their mental well-being. People on the autism spectrum can quickly feel stressed out by their environment, and a messy space can make things worse. The more mess there is, the likelier they’ll feel overwhelmed. Given that folks on the spectrum are more prone to anxiety, some might develop seizure disorders as they grow older (about 20-30% do), and others could have OCD. That’s why it’s super important for them to keep their living and working areas neat and well-organized to help them work better and feel better.
Cleaning as Someone with Autism
A messy room can be a big problem for folks with autism because it can add to their sensory struggles and make them feel more stressed. When things are all over the place, it’s harder to find what they need, and it can slow them down. Even though getting organized can be tough and take some time, it’s a simple and affordable way to cut down on stress. Setting aside some time for cleaning and organizing can make their living space more suitable for autism and help them with their daily routines.
Some Cleaning Tips for Autistic Adults
Now, why is it important to get a space well-organized? In straightforward terms, getting a space in order makes life simpler, lowers stress, and helps with sensory issues. The methods for organizing a space may not be identical for everyone, but there are some common techniques that work well for many people, particularly those with autism and their families. So instead of hiring a cleaner, below are some tips to begin with:
Minimalism offers a practical approach to organization that focuses on cutting down on visual mess in a living space while promoting a sense of calm and order. It’s particularly advantageous for individuals with sensory sensitivities, a group that includes many with autism. The advantages of reducing unnecessary items and decorations in the home are discussed.
One quick way to reduce visual clutter is to remove non-functional decorations, such as wall pictures and decorative trinkets. Minimalist principles can also be applied to overall home design, often using soft, muted colors that are helpful for those with sensory sensitivities. It’s important to remember that minimalism isn’t just about eliminating everything. The home should still feel like a comfortable place, without overwhelming the senses with too much clutter and decor.
Reuse and Recycle
Expanding your storage space is another quick method to cut down on clutter while ensuring that essential items are readily available. While building a new closet or adding extra shelves can be time-consuming and costly, there are many affordable storage solutions that can be implemented in no time. For example, you can use shoe holders, old shoeboxes, empty baby wipe containers, and magazine holders throughout your home to neatly store a wide range of items out of sight.
Velcro is also a handy tool for keeping frequently used items easily accessible without ending up in a messy pile on the floor or lost in a drawer. For instance, you can attach Velcro to video game controllers and remotes and hang them on the side of a TV cabinet. There are several effective ways to organize a space, reducing visual clutter while ensuring important items are within reach and making good use of old items you might have lying around – it’s like hitting three birds with one stone!
Assigning clear labels to spaces based on their function is a key aspect of getting organized, and it’s especially important for individuals with autism. Depending on the individual’s needs, labels can combine images and text to indicate what’s inside a drawer or storage space, or the purpose of a specific room. For text-only labels, you can get a label maker for around $30, but there are plenty of options. Alternatively, you can use a marker, white paper, and tape to create your own labels. If necessary, labels can also include printed pictures of the space.
Color coding can also be integrated into your organizational approach, with different colors highlighting the varying purposes of different areas. This concept can extend to differentiating the function of items you’re organizing and storing. For example, items that are used every day could be kept in a green container, while those used less frequently could be stored in a blue one. It’s crucial to organize and categorize items in a way that suits the specific needs of the person using the space.
Embracing Personal Hygiene and Cleanliness with High Functioning Autism
If you or someone you care for is affected by autism, it’s essential to embrace these practical strategies for maintaining personal hygiene and creating an organized living space that reduces stress. By applying these simple yet effective techniques such as minimalism, reusing and recycling, and labeling, you can significantly improve the daily lives of individuals with autism. Together, we can foster an environment that promotes sensory well-being, reduces anxiety, and enhances overall quality of life. Start implementing these strategies today and make a positive difference in the lives of those with autism.