Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
The book club selection for the Autism Spectrum Disorders site for February 2007 is Personal Hygiene? What's that Got to Do with Me?. The book is a very quick read for a parent to gain insights into the material covered before giving the book to their youngster between the recommended ages of eight to fourteen (8-14). This is for tweens and teenagers to learn and remind the older kids about the daily routines and hygiene skills they need to adhere to.
The paperback book by Jessica Kingsley Publishers that was illustrasted by Noah Crissey who is a cartoonist and freelance illustrator contains 94 pages. The author is Pat Crissey, a former special education teacher and autism consultant. This is a visual guide that includes keyword definitions for each chapter, a quiz at the end , activity pages, word searches, crossword puzzle and a maze at the back of the book.
Also found at the back of the book are great pages to duplicate for future use as we plan to do. These are personal hygiene worksheets and checklists. The first one has two columns - morning and evening. Here you can list the activities that are needed to do for each timeframe. Another checklist can be utilized daily to note the the activity, minutes and time of day. There is a similar form for evenings.
I suggest making photocopies and perhaps enlarging these for a group setting, camp or social skills meetings or groups, as well as for teachers, therapists and other professionals to help students and clients grasp these skills. The last checklist seems to be the best one where you have the time, task, and the columns for the days of the week - Sunday through Saturday.
The chapters are as follows:
1. Looking Clean, Smelling Clean
2. Turning Bad Hair Days Into Good Hair Days
3. Clean Teeth, Great Smile
4. Taming Dragon Breath
5. Having a Hand People Want to Shake
6. There's Hair Everywhere
7. Putting Your Best Foot Forward
8. Face Up To Teenage Skin
9. Good Bathroom Hygiene
Since my son Nicholas turns 12 in another month he is not quite ready for some of the chapters, like hair and shaving or teenage skin and acne. We did go over several chapters just today since I clipped his fingernails and toenails.
Personal Hygiene? What's that Got to Do with Me? helped convey the point I was making on cutting toenails after a shower since they were softer at that time. The first chapter helped explain the difference between antiperspirant and deodorant.
Please note that the following terms are utilized within the book - groin, bowel movement, pee, poop, urine, menstruation, sanitary napkins, tampons, urinating, vagina, penis, urinal, periods, blood.
This is done in a very tasteful way. In fact I wish this type of book was available when I was a young girl going through the changes. The diagrams are very helpful indicating the correct way to dispose of the sanitary napkins, how to wipe your bottom, how much toilet paper you need, and an activity page showing the time you should change your pad again if you did it at a certain time.
I really liked the explanation for what dandruff is since my son recently had some flakes and I was trying to explain it in simpler terms - thankfully there were some commercials he had recalled seeing to use as a visual.
There are activities at the back of the book for students in a group setting to practice. For example a doll to demonstrate wiping the bottom and the correct amount of toilet paper to use. There are suggestions for bringing in underpants and sanitary pads to show on the doll how to place them on and let the girls practice. It is mentioned to show the various sizes of these pads to show the differences when making a selection. They can even utilize red food coloring. A handwashing experiment uses cooking spray and cinnamon or paprika to simulate germs. Bringing in an electric razor for demonstrations is a great idea as well.
There are activities to test bad breath with cotton gauze, using floss and smelling it afterwards. Plastic teeth can be used to show the correct way to brush. For the past two years the class Nicholas has attended over the summer at the autism daycamp has provided toothbrushes and toothpaste for the campers. They do this after lunch each day.
It is explained that girls have long nails but boys do not and covers what areas you shave for both sexes. At the end of each chapter there are the questions with boxes with the notation to " tick off all answers that are correct". I would have rather the word "checked" be utilized and that there be some answer sheet for the kids to enforce their learning of personal hygiene skills. It sure seemed like most times there were 2-3 correct answers and usually just one that was funny and not correct. Then there was space for you to list the steps to achieve that skill with blank lines to fill that in.
Preceeding the questions for each chapter is a visual roundup of the steps to do the task at hand:
1. Wash feet with soap
2. Dry feet well
3. Trim your toenails
4. Put on clean socks
I like to have my son put on some lotion on his feet before placing the socks on. Also there was not an illustration of a wastebasket for the toenail clippings. Sometimes it does help to cover all the little steps needed to achieve these tasks and daily routines.
Here is an example of some questions:
How often do you need to trim your toenails?
Once a day
Twice a day
Once a week
Once a year on New Year's Eve
Why do people have "morning breath"?
Because they ate candy the night before
Because they didn't floss before going to bed
Because bacteria grow in the mouth all night
According to Nicholas the book contained a lot of information to help keep your body nice and clean. The questions were easy to answer based on what was read earlier in each chapter. He thought it was a good recap with some funny responses.
I did notice that cleaning ears did not seem to be inside the book, which would be a good addition since many times as we are walking to school I notice that his ears need cleaning. I think it needs to be done several times a week and something that children especially on the autism spectrum need to be aware of.
I like that the book can be utilized throughout the tween and teenage years as these issues arise, like using antiperspirant and shaving. Another good aspect of this book is that it really does not cover sex and sticks to the topic at hand that is noted in the title, Personal Hygiene? What's that Got to Do with Me?
Based on five stars I would go with 4.5 due to not mentioning ears, having no wastebasket for clipping nails and no answer section for the quizes. I highly recommend this for families, teachers, therapists, support groups and social skills groups.
Puberty Resource Page at Pediatrics Now
When should my child start using Deodorant?
Educational Autism Tips for Families 71 page resourceful ebook for families entering the school system with a recent autism diagnosis. Find out what issues take place over the course of a school day and meet these challenges head on.