Empower with the Shower: How to?

Hygiene and showering are a crucial concern for many parents and caregivers. Today, we are going to Empower with the Shower!
Topics covered in this article: shower, wash hair, more!

Hygiene and showering are a crucial concern for many parents and caregivers.  Today, we are going to Empower with the Shower!

For our loved ones with disabilities, they may require a little more support with understanding the world around them.  Visual support would be one of the first ways in which we can help them.

All of us think in pictures first.  It is why signs exist.  We comprehend objects and pictures well before spoken and written words.  Therefore, utilizing a visual schedule will help your loved one to understand what to do and how to do it.

FAQ:  I am always asked, “How do I get my loved one to rinse their hair completely of shampoo or how much conditioner to apply?” or “How do I get my loved one to really wash rather just brush the loofah or washcloth over their body part?” This is something we will be addressing in our Memberships, so stay tuned for that!

Note:  I do want to clarify that there is a difference between knowing the steps to take a shower independently compared to the quality in which the shower is.  When teaching this skill, we first focus on the understanding of how to a level of independence and then build in to what extent. 

The How To of this strategy

  1. Materials:
    1. Print the Visual (laminate if possible-Office stores will laminate)
    2. Shampoo/Conditioner
    3. Loofah/washcloth and body wash/ soap
    4. Note: Depending on your loved one’s age, you may also need face wash, razer, shaving cream
  2. Review the visual yourself and become familiar with the steps
  3. Introduce the schedule to your loved one
    1. Before showering
      1. You are going to talk about what is going to happen at each step using the materials
      2. Walk through the schedule and have them point to where each body part is and what materials they are going to use to clean it.
      3. Have them practice putting the shampoo in their hands and conditioner (this way they can see how much)
      4. Have them practice adding soap or body wash to their loofah/washcloth
    2. Depending on the independence of your loved one, you may need to support the shower. For many, you may be giving the shower.
    3. During the shower you are near them with the visual cuing each picture as they complete the step.
      1. For example
        1. Say and Point to the visual: (If they are unsure of the materials, show it to them)
          1. Wash my hair 
          2. And rinse
        2. Say and Point to the visual: (again if they are unsure which materials show them)
          1. Wash my face
          2. And neck
        3. Repeat for each step
      2. If it is not quality, you can help finish, but first have them complete the routine
    4. CAUTION:  As independence grows, you will be tempted to pull the visual and continue to give the verbal cue for each step.  However, the next step is to point at the picture and say nothing.  It is easier to release from a picture cue rather than a verbal cue (This leads to another question: ”How do I get my child to stop relying on my verbal cues?”. This will be addressed in our memberships as well.)
    5. Once they can complete the routine with you pointing at the picture, hang the visual in a location that you can reach in the shower and point to each step.
    6. Once they can follow that, only point to the step they miss.
    7. Once they complete that, you can sit in the bathroom to provide the gradual release.
    8. Then, your loved one can shower on their own.

Empower the Shower!  You now get 5 minutes of respite within your own home!