Who Gives a Care About Aspergers Personal Hygiene?
A lot of people!
People with Aspergers are logical.
Here’s what some have said:
“If it doesn’t look dirty or smell dirty, it’s not dirty, so cleaning would be a waste of time.”
“Showering is boring and unimportant.”
“The [hygiene] standards of modern Western society are ridiculous.”
But the truth is, society has its hidden curriculum. If you have bad body odor, unkempt hair, and bizarre clothes, people are going to judge you. They’ll reject you and stay away from you.
Why is Aspergers Personal Hygiene So Challenging?
I’ve read a couple of ideas about why Aspies don’t care for hygiene. People with Aspergers are logical: and it seems doesn’t make sense to them, logically, why people are so consumed with grooming and hygiene. Then, there are sensory issues involved with bathing and grooming. Brushing teeth can be uncomfortable and even painful. Showering can be uncomfortable. Others don’t like the feeling of bathing because it feels like they are sitting in their own filth.
What are the Payoffs of Tending to Personal Hygiene?
I’ve shared, in the four steps of communication, that others’ opinions, thoughts, and feelings about you do matter. John Elder Robison, author of Be Different, discovered that, once he got a haircut and wore semi-clean clothes, people started noticing him and talking to him. People want a minimum of cleanliness and grooming when they meet someone. It’s one more way to form relationships. It’s one more way to support relationships.
Advice from an Aspie to an Aspie
Here’s some logical advice from one Aspie who, herself, agrees that grooming and personal hygiene are bothersome, to another Aspie, who wanted nothing to do with changing his ways.
Yes, the standards of modern Western society really are ridiculous. It’s not just you and me that think so. Conservationists and environmentalists and such carp about this all the time. Living in spotless, scentless (or artificially scented) splendor is something that was fabricated by advertising agencies to sell appliances and products (half a dozen different washes– and don’t even get me started on douche and “feminine deodorant spray”).
And people are such insecure, paranoid, stupid herd animals that it’s worked. Very well. All that product just absolutely flies off the shelves.
…Yes, if you want to be accepted (or really more than grudgingly, judgingly, and barely tolerated), you really do have to do it.
You don’t have to buy all the products, and spend hordes of time and money on hairstyles and such. I shave my armpits, but not my legs (I’m female, btw). Haven’t done it in over a decade, ’cause it takes half an hour and makes me itch like mad. I used to wear long pants or long skirts at all times. I wear whatever I want now. People make fun, but that’s really all they can do.
Bad news: You do have to wash your focal points and personal bits– face, armpits, butt crack, and gentials– every stupid stinking day (or at least every stupid stinking day that you go out in public).
Good news: All you have to use is soap and water. And it takes five minutes.
Bad news: You really do have to shower three or four times a week (more if you do dirty or sweaty stuff).
Good news: You can take a perfectly acceptable shower in five to ten minutes. Get in, get wet, wash your hair, wash your personal bits, rinse, turn off the water, get out. With multiple kids and time consuming special interests, I’ve got this down to an art.
Bad news: You really do have to brush your teeth twice a day, pretty much every day. And flossing really would be a good idea. I was too depressed to care for a few years, and I hate flossing, and I’m 34 with a mouthful of shitty teeth to prove it. I’ll be wearing dentures by the time I’m 50. Suckage.
Good news: The brushing thing takes five minutes. Total. Two in the morning, two at night, and a minute spent wetting and rinsing the toothbrush, getting it out and putting it away, applying toothpaste and wiping the spots off of the mirror.
You’re up to fifteen minutes a day. You waste more time than that thinking about what you want to eat– which you can do while you’re washing.
Bad news: I think twice is about the limit for getting away with wearing street clothes. Whatever you lay around in– hey, that’s up to you. What you wear out in public, you can probably wear twice or at the most three times if you’re just going out for little things (trips to the store or appointments, as opposed to hikes or runs or a job). And you have to change your underwear every day. Our current culture finds sweat and crotch smell to be inordinately offensive.
Worse news: Unless you have a lot of clothes, this means doing laundry about once a week (for one person).
Good news: Our culture has washers and dryers. If you have them at home, be really really thankful. If you have an on-site coin-op laundry, be thankful. If you have to travel to the laundromat, get a couple of good clothes baskets or a really sturdy cloth sack and a portable activity you enjoy. At least you’re not doing it on a washboard, right???
Yeah– the standards suck. I think they’re frivolous and stupid. You think they’re frivolous and stupid. A lot of people agree with us. When we don’t have the luxuries of indoor plumbing and labor-saving appliances (or water’s so severely rationed that you’re not allowed to do it or it’s prohibitively expensive), the vast majority of people will agree with us and the standards will change.
But right now they are what they are. We can either live with them (and within them) or pay the price.
Here are some free resources regarding personal hygiene:
Hygiene Expert talks about the importance of good personal hygiene.
LiveStrong provides a logical rationale for good personal hygiene.
My Aspergers Child gives 20 parenting suggestions to decrease children’s distress over sensory issues and grooming.
Other articles consulted: Free Library’s Aspergers Syndrome and Personal Hygiene
Here’s an affiliate resource I support:
In this book, an experienced, certified teacher and speech-language pathologist has written this book to offer the necessary information on skills students need to live safe, healthy lives as independently as they are physically and mentally capable of living.
photo credit: SCA Svenska
What are some of your thoughts and experiences with Aspergers personal hygiene care? Let me know below!