Issues concerning hygiene in children with hemiplegia can vary from the physical problems of trying to provide self care with one hand to the cognitive issues of remembering and comprehending certain aspects of personal care.
Remembering a routine is important. Picture charts are simple and inexpensive. Reminder devices are available through adaptive living catalogues (like an alarm clock type pager with a recorded message – “It’s 8:30, time for your shower” or motion activated recorded messages “Did you wash your hands after using the toilet?”)
Stressing importance of hygiene
Many times children with cognitive impairments are unaware or don’t care about social customs. Modeling behavior (“Oh look, I took my hat off and my hair’s messy, I should go comb it”) and praising when they are meeting expectations (“Look how nicely you matched your clothes today”) are both tried and true methods. Award charts can also help.
Keeping a calendar will help girls realize when they need to keep feminine products on hand.
Integrating these issues into IEP’s as well as home
Remember that independent life skills are as important as reading and writing. Seek out assistance on integrating these into your child’s school curriculum.
Use flushable wipes when needed as they clean more completely and easier. A spray bottle can be filled with water and sprayed toward those hard to reach places (this also helps females clean during menses).
Bathtub safety is a must. Use non-slip mats or stickers on the tub. A strong grab bar is also helpful when children start to bath or shower independently. Baby wash clothes are thinner and easier to handle and wring out with one hand. Squeeze bottles and soap dispensers in the shower to store soap and shampoo for one handed operation are also helpful. These are usually found at discount stores and have suction cups for installation. A long handled sponge that holds soap and water may be useful.
Toothpaste in the upright containers may work for some kids. You may need to velcro it to the counter. The child can either use the affected hand to pump it or place the toothbrush on the counter and learn to aim well! Others place the tube of toothpaste on the counter and press it down with affected fist, holding toothbrush in unaffected hand. Because of sensory issues, children my forget one side of their mouth, be sure to observe the first few times they’re on their own.
Older teens have recommended the Gillette Sensor Excel razor for women. Electric razors may also work, but often don’t provide a close enough shave.