What do you do with a 10 year old who refuses to take a shower/bath?

A reader of my newsletter asked…

I hope you can answer my question. What do you do with a 10 year old who refuses to take a shower/bath? He cringes with the touch of water and can only sponge bathe (which really isn't that effective). He doesn't care that he is dirty. I know he has Aspergers but is there anything I can do? This is only getting worse with age–he used to bathe at least every few days.

Stubborn Autistic Child

It is a common symptom of autism that an autistic child, teen or even  young adult (or one with Asperger's syndrome) does not have good personal hygiene.

To encourage a person with autism to take baths, keep clean, put on deodorant, etc. you have to use incentives. For example, you have to put it in terms of something they want. If they want friends, you have to explain that no one will want to be their friend if their breath stinks, they have body odor or they look unwashed. If your loved one is only 10 he still likely wants playmates and may not have many or any.

Or he may want something from you…like a trip to the zoo or going to the movies or something special. You make a rule that if he washes with plain water and a washcloth each day for two weeks (or whatever) then he gets what he wants. This is the most effective way to combat this problem.

See my article, Three Tips to Solve Challenges with Personal Hygiene for more information.

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One Response to “What do you do with a 10 year old who refuses to take a shower/bath?”

  1. Jennifer Says:

    I know of a good little eBook that can help. It has some nice, colorful pictures and a cute story. Through the story children can see that being dirty makes people not want to play. While I never had trouble bathing my stepson with autism and asperger’s when he was little, I know every problem is a struggle. Look for No No Shower by Carmit Kagan on Amazon. I hope it helps!


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