Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hand-Washing

One of my favorite bloggers, Big Daddy Autism, posted today: Live Long and Wash Up. His post got me thinking about GL's washing (and not washing) his hands. I meant to leave a quick comment, but by the time I was done, it was almost a blog post of its own. Since I haven't posted here in a while, here it is:


Ah, yes, hand-washing. At least this was one of GL’s quirky habits that did not bother us too much. Until he started scrubbing them till they bled. His doctor put him on a medication that eliminated this compulsion. Unfortunately, he abruptly stopped washing his hands. Ever. He seems unable to see or feel peanut butter, jelly, dirt, and even more disgusting things on his hands, even in layers a quarter-inch thick. Since one of his favorite foods (and one of the few he can prepare independently) is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and since he gets rather messy in the process, his hands are sticky most of the time. Since he steadfastly refuses to wash them, the countertops, cupboard handles, doorknobs, walls, and floors, in short, every surface he touches, are sticky, too. We try to clean up behind him, but we can’t keep up.

Since he is a compulsive rule-follower, provided the rule doesn’t conflict with his own inexplicable code of conduct, I sought a rule that would minimize, or at least partially contain, the mess. I hit on one: requiring him to use a plate for his peanut butter sandwiches. It took a while, but once it was established in his mind as a rule, he wouldn’t think of having a sandwich without one. This has contained the mess somewhat—less jelly makes it to the floors, walls, and doorknobs, but the mess on the countertops and cupboard handles remains about the same—but now, every time he makes a sandwich, he spreads peanut butter down the rims of all the clean plates stacked in the cupboard while selecting one for his sandwich.

1 Comments:

Blogger DeeAnn Lancaster said...

Oh my. This is a great post. It makes me thankful that we don't have that problem with Cody. We do have to cue him to wash up, however.

January 23, 2013 at 8:04 PM  

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