Any parent of child on the spectrum knows that getting dressed is a huge task. I thought I’d share some useful tips and tools that I have learned along the way that has made dressing a little easier. As with everything, try what you think is best for you and your child.
1. Picture charts help kids know what is expected of them and keeps them on task (or helps get back on task). Consider making a picture chart for dressing in the morning and getting undressed and into pajamas at night.
2. Planning outfits for the week or the night before is a good idea so there isn’t an argument in the morning. Discuss and decide together if your child is young. It is our job to teach them to be as independent as possible. So teach them simple things like not to wear strips with polka dots. Make sure that the clothing is weather appropriate. However, keep in mind their sensory issues. (Now that my daughter is older she tells me what clothes are itchy, or uncomfortable.)
3. Pick your battles. My sister and brother-in-law told me this. It is so true. Does it really matter if they brush their teeth “here or there?” As long as the goal gets accomplished – the teeth are brushed before they walk out the door.
4. Save the most uncomfortable task until the end. In my home it is hair brushing or should I say “was.” Now we use a special brush called the “Knot Genie,” and a spray bottle with water and a little conditioner. It also helps my child if she is distracted. So I try to wait until she is dressed and fed then I let her watch a show while I attempt the task of hair brushing.
5. Reward charts. Rewards work, but only you know what works for your child. For younger kids it can be stickers. For older kids it can be ten checks on a chart earns them any item at the dollar store or twenty minutes of computer time, etc.
6. STAY CALM and allow enough time to not be rushed. Being impatient because you are running late. If the child becomes distracted or irritated – try setting the timer. Tell the child they have 1, 3, or 5 minutes to do the task that they are stuck on completing. Keep in mind that their neural processing does take a little longer at times.