Sensory Processing Disorder Hand Hygiene Ideas 

Children with Sensory Processing Disorder can really struggle with their hygiene, it can be quite challenging for parents. Not only do children with Sensory Processing Disorder struggle with hygiene and self-care, but autistic children and children who have ADHD struggle too.  

Children should wash their hands before eating or preparing food. Children should always wash their hands after they have used the bathroom, sneezing, coughing, playing outdoors, blowing their nose, touching animals, eating, coming in your house from playing with other children or on playground equipment. 

For parents, one of our top priorities is to protect and keep our children safe and healthy. In today's world, with pandemics and ongoing threat of illnesses, it is more important than ever to teach and practice good hand hygiene habits.
parent washing child's with sensory processing disorder hands with soap Sensory Processing Disorder Hand Hygiene Ideas

Brushing teeth, bathing, showering, cutting hair, cutting toenails and washing hands can be quite difficult for children who have sensory difficulties. Washing hands can feel painful for a child if they are tactile defensive.  Washing hands is extremely important, more now than ever but it can be challenging for kids who have sensory processing disorder.   

Washing our hands is the best way to stop the spread of germs and prevents us from getting sick. It is important that children understand why they have to wash their hands. There are social stories explaining the importance of handwashing.  

Washing their hands is a simple and routine but for children with sensory processing difficulties, hand hygiene can be a challenging and overwhelming experience. This can make it difficult for children to perform everyday tasks, such as washing their hands, due to sensory differences.  

It is very important to understand that children with sensory differences may have different reactions to different sensations, such as the feeling of soap or water on their hands. Some may find it unpleasant or uncomfortable, while others may crave the sensation and have difficulty stopping once they start. It can be a struggle for parents to get children with sensory issues to consistently wash their hands. 

Provide a variety of sensory experiences by using different textures of soap, such as foaming, gel or cream soap. Some children may prefer the smoothness of gel soap, while others may enjoy the lather of foaming soap. You can also try adding essential oils to the soap to create a calming or alerting scent. Children who have Sensory Processing Disorder can have aversion to smells, sounds and touch. (tactile) This can make it difficult for them to wash their hands.
There are hand soaps specifically designed for children with sensory sensitivities. These soaps have a neutral or mild scent, are free of dyes and harsh chemicals, and have a smooth texture that is less likely to irritate the child's skin.

Some children prefer bars of soap while other children prefer liquid or foam soap more. Scented soaps could be bothersome for your child, and some prefer unscented soaps. Your child may prefer cold water or warm water. All children are different with different sensory needs but with some creativity and patience, it is possible to find solutions that work best for your child and make hand hygiene a more pleasant experience for them. 

Turn handwashing into a fun activity by singing a song, counting, or using a timer. This can help keep the child engaged and make the task seem less daunting. You can also try using hand puppets or fun hand-shaped scrub brushes to make it more enjoyable. 
Timers are a great visual too, so they know how long they are expected to wash their hands. Singing the Happy Birthday song is a great way to know how long they need to wash their hands. 

Children with sensory differences may struggle with transitions and remembering tasks. Visual aids, such as a step-by-step handwashing chart, can help them remember the proper handwashing technique and make it a more predictable routine.

Deep pressure touch can be soothing for children with SPD as it provides a calming sensation. You can try having the child rub their hands together firmly or use a hand massage technique before and after washing their hands to help them relax.

Washing hands in public places can be overwhelming for children with sensory processing disorder due to the noise and unfamiliar environment. Prepare your child by talking to them beforehand and bringing along a familiar sensory-friendly item, such as a toy or fidget, to help them cope.

Reaching the taps and sink could be difficult for your child. Having a child's stool could be helpful for your child to reach the sink to properly wash their hands. 

Many children with sound sensitivities cannot tolerate the sound of hand dryers. You may need to keep paper towels on hand in your bag while you are out for drying their hands or your child could use sensory ear protection. 

Your child may prefer to wash their hands with a soft face cloth, brush or sponge. Each child is different. You may find they prefer one more than the other. 

If your child is like mine, they may require hand lotion after they wash their hands because they feel dry. I have always had to keep lotion in my bag, or she wouldn't want to wash her hands. 

Often our children have challenges with fine motor skills. It can be difficult for them to use some soap dispensers. There are automatic soap dispensers that your child can use easily. 

Praise your child when you notice they are doing a great job and encourage them to wash their hands. Include sensory activities into the handwashing routine to provide a positive experience for children with sensory challenges. You can have them play with sensory bins containing items like rice, beans, or water before and after washing their hands.

Children with sensory issues may have difficulty with handwashing due to their sensory differences, but with patience and understanding, you can help them develop good hand hygiene habits.

Innobaby Bathin' Smart Silicone Sensory Fish Bath Scrub for Babies and Toddlers - Blue
Soft, cleansing silicone body scrubber works baby wash into a rich lather, making it an ideal way to exfoliate cradle cap, ease sore breastfeeding ducts, and relax baby from head to toe.
Big kids love this fish scrub too! It works as beautiful addition to your soothing bedtime routine, a calming sensory brush or quiet, or a quiet, engagin fidget toy (for kids age 6 and older). Simply toss it in the dishwasher or boil it in water to achieve a like-new clean.

Kids Soap, Mini soaps, Bubble Soap, Bear Shape Mini Soaps for Kids, Handmade in the US Kids Soaps, Fun Bath Time for Children, Boys & Girls, for All Skin Types
Can't Get Them to Wash Their Hands? Our bubble bears are fun way to stay fresh and clean while promoting healthy hand washing habits. They'll LOVE hand washing with these mini soaps.
Our bear soap mini not only look cute they're loaded with all natural ingredients for a unique gift every child will love!
Each jar comes with 5 ounces of charming bear shaped soap treats in a variety of colors, with a sweet-smelling aroma of Cranberry Pear Bellini.

SPLATZ - Kids Soap - Naturally Fun Hand Soap - Bursting With Fun
SPLATZ are eco-friendly bubbles of pure hand soap that literally SPLAT! when kids squeeze them. Developed by an entrepreneurial designer (mom) and two Harvard/MIT scientists (dads) using a patent-pending formula and all natural ingredients, these irresistible balls of fun change the way kids think about washing their hands.
Natural, biodegradable ingredients with a light citrus scent

SOAPEN Kids' Roll-On Hand Soap | Fun, Colorful Soap Pen | Encourages Proper Handwashing (3-Pack: Fresh Pear / Berry Blast/ Tangy Tangerine)
Washing for 20-40 Seconds is FUN- What feels like an eternity for kids to meet CDC guidelines is not so with SoaPen; Kids have fun washing their hands in 4 easy steps:  Draw, Wet, Rub, and Rinse; They know they’re done when all of the drawing on their hands has been washed away; Never again ask “Have you washed your hands?”, because as a parent you’ll be able to see for yourself
Only Clean Kid-Friendly Ingredients- SoaPen is non-toxic and free from SLS, parabens, EDTA, phthalates and any animal by-product, so it’s ideal for sensitive skin. 

SPLATZ - Kids Soap - Naturally Fun Hand Soap - Bursting With Fun
SPLATZ are eco-friendly bubbles of pure hand soap that literally SPLAT! when kids squeeze them. Developed by an entrepreneurial designer (mom) and two Harvard/MIT scientists (dads) using a patent-pending formula and all natural ingredients, these irresistible balls of fun change the way kids think about washing their hands.
Natural, biodegradable ingredients with a light citrus scent

Learning Resources 20-Second Handwashing Timer, Children's Timer, Home & Classroom Sanitation, Ages 3+
Build new handwashing skills to stay healthy during cold season!
Lights and sounds let you know when it's time to start and stop scrubbing!
Compact size means your timer fits anywhere!
CLASSROOM, BATHROOMS & MORE: Perfect for classrooms, restrooms, or wherever there's a sink!

Hand Washing Chart for Kids. Ideal for Children with Autism or Special Needs. Helps with Independence and self Care. PECS, Visual Schedules, ASD
HOM Charts help with early childhood development. Help your children learn to wash their hands on their own with our step-by-step system. As Parents of a Child with Autism, Charts and Schedules have been crucial in raising our children. Your child will enjoy following along and gain confidence as they learn to take care of themselves. Universal Charts are helpful for all Children not just those with Special Needs. Now parents can relax knowing they don't have to complete every phase of hand washing with their Children as our system helps them to complete these tasks themselves

I Don't Want to Wash My Hands!
From beloved children's author and illustrator Tony Ross, comes a fun to read and humorous take on the importance of handwashing.
The Little Princess does not want to wash her hands. After all, she's already washe her hands so many times!
She's washed her hands before eating and after going outside. She's washed her hands after sneezing and using the potty. Why should she wash her hands anymore?

Savannah and her Squeaky-Clean Hands: Helping friends and fighting germs
Germs don't stand a chance when Savannah is around, but when faced with a hard decision will dirty hands be okay?
This fun-loving children's book is perfect to inspire young readers. A great African American children's book for a classroom of diverse young readers.
Savannah will take your child on a journey to:
A MUST HAVE for parents and teachers struggling to teach the "How-To" of handwashing and getting rid of germs.
Be prepared for your child to love helping others and love washing their hands even more!

Here are some more helpful Sensory Processing Disorder Resources

DISCLAIMER: I am not an Occupational Therapist. I am an adult who has Sensory Processing Disorder, a sensory parent and a Grandma. The information on this website is not medical advice and does not replace the information that your child's therapists give you. These are just ideas and information that I have learned myself over the years of being a parent and an adult living with SPD. If you are concerned for your child, please always seek medical attention through a family doctor, pediatrician or therapist. This website is for suggestions and informational purposes only. Each child is different and what works for one child may not for another because all children have different needs. Please always consult with a professional.

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