How to Help Autistic Children Overcome Sensitivity When Getting Their Nails Cut
Attempting to cut the fingernails of a scared or frantic child is a battle almost every parent is familiar with. But what is imperative for them is to understand and identify the trigger behind such a response, and thus coming to know what some suitable approaches to the issue may be.
The underlying cause can vary from reasons such as Autism and the sensory processing disorders associated with the congenital disease, to phobias, or unfamiliarity with the clipper or trimming tools used.
Autism and Sensory Processing Disorders
According to Web MD, a sensory processing disorder is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes through senses. Toddlers and young kids with such disorders may be extremely sensitive to certain frequencies, sounds, or feelings when touched. Such disorders are commonly associated with children on the Autistic Spectrum, and can undergo treatment known as sensory integration.
Some parents also find that their children panic at the mere sight of a fingernail clipper. Such phobias should not be ignored, especially as there are methods of gradual desensitization that can be taken.
Another important thing to note is that the safety of your child comes first, so getting them in a comfortable and calm state for the task ahead should be a top priority.
Experts Recommend Parent or Video Modeling for Autistic Children
A commonly used approached by parents with autistic kids is modeling the behavior of trimming fingernails and toenails without pressuring kids to do the same. Such a method has been successfully employed for kids to come to a realization that grooming is a normal everyday activity and thus disassociating nail cutting with something that is painful or torturous.
Experts in Autism strongly recommend creating home videos of family members getting their nails trimmed as part of the family routine.
Gradual Desensitization is the Goal
The process toward desensitization will take time and patience, so remember to take each day at a time. Some other tips and tricks parents have used to gradually familiarize children with nail trimming are:
1. Keeping Tools Visible - This method aims to familiarize kids with the tools being used, making them an everyday sight which will gradually desensitize them to the fear that comes when seeing their parent equip themselves with it. Try placing it on the bathroom counter or next to the TV for visibility. Older kids can even be encouraged to handle the tool themselves.
2. Trim during or After a Bath - Many parents have found that trimming their kid’s nails during or after a bath not only relaxes their child, but softens their fingernails and toenails, making them easier to cut. Try trimming their nails under the water as this muffles the sound, but be careful as things may be a little slippery.
3. File instead of Clip - There are many tools in the market to assist parents with the difficult task of cutting their young one’s nails. One of which is the Little Martin’s Nail Trimmer which gently, yet effectively files away nail fingers without the need for any loud, sudden snapping or clipping.
- Agnes Yoon