What is it with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder(OCD) and personal hygiene? It seems that people with OCD fall into two categories. They either scrub themselves until they bleed, or they become another Howard Hughes, by shunning bathing, hair cutting, and nail-cutting.
I realize that Z is a teenaged boy, who will avoid changing clothes or showering until nagged into submission. We know that when Z starts bathing voluntarily, there will be a girl involved. However, OCD has raised him to a higher level of filth. Z's scalp is overly sensitive. Hair washing and combing has been a lifelong battle with him. A lot of TS kids suffer from overly sensitive nerve endings in different areas of their bodies. Many parents battle with finding clothing that doesn't bind or itch. Right now, I'd love to shave his head, so we wouldn't have to deal with greasy, matted hair. In addition, the oil from his hair is causing an eruption of pimples on Z's forehead.
At the moment, Z's fingernails are all over an inch long. Some of the nails are broken. I'm sure they snag on everything, but this doesn't seem to bother him. Z is too independent to let me cut his nails. His OCD fear of cutting his skin, prevents him from cutting his own nails. Tomorrow is the day for nail and hair cutting. Let the battles begin!
When you factor in the forgetfullness of ADD, Z's hygiene becomes a nightmare! He gets sidetracked and forgets to brush his teeth or comb his hair. I have printed out a poster of a daily hygiene routine for Z. He never gets through the list without getting sidetracked. We now realize that we have to supervise EVERY item on his list, until it becomes ingrained in his head as a daily habit. Time consuming, but necessary. No wonder we're getting behind in his schooling!
Toilet flushing is another OCD battle we're fighting. Z has a constant fear that the toilet will overflow, which prevents him from flushing. We're currently making him flush, while standing behind him. The more times he flushes, without overflowing the toilet, the more confident he becomes. We're also teaching him how the toilet works and that the plunger is our friend. Another 'plumbing issue' Z has, is filling the bathtub. Even as a small child, Z refused to be in the bathroom while I filled the tub. Running water, except in the sink, freaks him out. Needless to say, showers have always been out of the question for Z. Maybe Plumbing 101 should be on his list of classes?
This semester, Z's health classes will focus on personal hygiene. We have to tread lightly, as the mention of germs may tip him into hyper-clean mode. We will focus on the comfort of being clean, and how much cleanliness improves his appearance.
On the bright side, as seen in my 'clutter' posts, Z is starting to overcome his OCD hoarding behavior. He has been struggling with cleaning his room for the last couple of months. Once again, Mr. Independent refuses to let us help. The motivation for Z's cleaning binge has been his desire to have his new computer in his room. The processor died on the computer that Z built last summer, so L ordered himself a new computer so Z could have his old one. We won't let him put the 'new' computer in his room, until the room is clean and organized. Z has become ruthless while sorting through his unused toys, many of which are 10 years old.
Z has Executive Dysfunction, which makes organizing anything extremely difficult for him. We're quite proud of the progress he's made in his room. L and I will need to fine tune a few things today, but we should be able to move his computer in by nightfall. Then we need to box up the discarded toys and make a trip to the Salvation Army. This will eliminate most of the clutter remaining in our house. Just in the nick of time too. We want to put up Christmas decorations Thanksgiving weekend.