What’s the first thing you think of when you think of the autism community and grooming?
Me? I think of the part in Temple Grandin’s movie when her boss tells her she has to wear deodorant. She was walking around with body odor that affected other people. Her boss gave her deodorant and told her to wear it.
It was such a teachable moment and she learned the lesson. Putting on deodorant seems so obvious, but it’s not to some of our autistic friends.
Every autistic person and child is different. We know this. They each (like we all do) have different skills, abilities, gifts, lacks, characteristics, etc. You know your child best. You know what they are capable of.
I wanted to start this Queer Eye DIY series with Jonathan and grooming (of the five: grooming, home, food, fashion, culture) because I feel that grooming is the most critical piece for our autism community. Good hygiene is important. It’s probably the main key to social acceptance or at least tolerance. Just to get our foot in the door with social interactions, we need to smell good, look clean, and dress appropriately.
After bingeing on Queer Eye, the following are ways I have shifted my grooming practice, which definitely seemed to be my most-needs-improvement area.
Get a good haircut, shave, facial . . . whatever it is you are in need of right now.
I got a haircut after being inspired by Queer Eye. I know, right? GASP!
Some of you do this grooming thing very easily already, but I tend to get a hair “trim” about once or twice a year, whether I need it or not. And when I do go, I visit Great Clips or Supercuts because hair is really not my priority. But I definitely recommend that you get a really good haircut, shave, facial, or head shine if you’re bald. If you really want to go crazy and need help with this, schedule your next cut or trim while you’re getting your haircut.
Spend money on good products.
I feel joyful knowing that the products I’m putting on my body are kind to the Earth and healthy for me.
In so many episodes, Jonathan reads the labels and recommends purchasing products that do not contain sulfates. After having cancer, I was told to stay away from parabens and sulfates in my shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and any product that touches my skin. I found this to be an easy switch to make. Here’s where I got stuck for a moment though; I didn’t want to finish up the products I already had, but I also didn’t want to waste them. With that, I granted myself full permission to finish up a few of the products I already had and I gave myself permission to simply throw others away with complete peace in my heart. Whatever works best for you is the right way.
Define your grooming schedule and stick to it as well as you can.
This might sound a bit odd, but seriously, if you have grooming goals and a defined schedule that you feel you can stick to, you can write them down just like you would an exercise goal. In my family, we take showers/baths every two days (spoken goal), and my main grooming goal after being inspired by Jonathan on Queer Eye is to wear makeup five days a week. I also want to wear my hair down at least once a week because I’ve got to start somewhere. I love how I feel when I have my makeup on, so I’ve made that part of my actionable grooming goals each week.
A grooming schedule might look like this for your autistic child:
- Take a shower every 2 days and after you get super sweaty.
- Every morning:
- Brush your teeth.
- Rinse your face with water.
- Every evening before bed:
- Brush, floss, and rinse with mouthwash after all food has been eaten.
- Wash your face.
- Use toner on your face.
- Put moisturizer on your face.
- Every fourth month, get your hair cut or trimmed.
- Wear sunscreen if you’ll be in the sun longer than fifteen minutes.
- Put on a healthy moisturizer (full body) two days a week (maybe Mondays and Fridays or whenever seems appropriate for the climate where you live and your skin type).
I hope this gives you the nudge, permission, or guidance you need to create a healthy and consistent grooming practice for yourself and for your family.