Ask the Experts

Hygiene Help for Kids With Sensory and Attention Issues

“Does anyone have advice to get children and teens with ADHD to practice good hygiene independently — brush their teeth, comb their hair, and wash up?” one reader asks us. “What if they have sensory issues?”

Toothbrush and toothpaste in the bathroom close up.

Daily tasks with little to no stimulation are difficult to attend to for those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and even more so for those with sensory processing problems. During my years as a behavior and learning specialist, I have worked with countless children who have had a very difficult time with sensitivities to water pressure and temperature, brushing teeth, tangled hair, static cling, and more. With a little bit of creativity and practice, you can teach your child the importance of grooming.

Think in terms of, “How can I solve this problem?” You will be surprised how many ideas will pop up in your mind to make things easier for your child when you are in a problem-solving mode. Don’t forget to ask your child for input as she may come up with her own solutions with your assistance.

Try some of these strategies to decrease uncomfortable sensations, such as dry spray-on shampoo, face and body wipes, motorized toothbrushes, and shower heads with varying degrees of pressure. Take your child on a shopping trip to purchase stimulating and novel grooming tools to help wake up the brain and increase motivation, such as florescent combs and brushes, scented pump soap, toothpaste, and so on. Practice morning and bedtime grooming rituals on the weekend when you and your child are not trying to get out of the house on time and emotions are running high.

To educate your child on the importance of good grooming and hygiene, I recommend reading this article from LiveStrong.com and watching the videos below. I think you’ll be pleased with of the array of high-interest activities for both of you to enjoy!

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