Children with severe autism are basically incapable of caring for themselves. The caregivers are responsible for all aspects of an autistic person’s hygiene. Bathing, combing their hair, brushing their teeth, wiping their nose (and other parts), clipping their nails, everything.
Of all the hygiene tasks we perform for Gracie, I dislike clipping her nails the most. They grow so fast! But keeping her fingernails short is a must, otherwise she scratches herself or others, and her nails get nasty quickly. Getting Gracie to remain still while clipping her nails used to be quite a challenge. Now the challenge is getting her fingers into position so I can clip her nails. Her fingers are like noodles when I try to position them.
As I just mentioned, her nails dirty quickly, and must be cleaned often. The main reason is because Gracie doesn’t get the concept of silverware. As a consequence, she’s limited to anything she can eat with her fingers, and we must cut up all of her food into bite-size pieces. Eating in general warrants a post of its own, and will get to that another day.
Anyway, clipping her nails is task that has mainly fallen upon my father and I. Something I guess we’re better at than our wives. I am very careful not to cut Gracie’s nails too short. A few years ago my mother clipped Gracie’s fingernails too short, and they started bleeding a little. Needless to say, I was a little upset, as was my mother. To this day I don’t believe she’s ever attempted to clip them again.
Then I worry about ingrown toenails. We had one scare recently where we thought she was getting an ingrown toenail. Fortunately, the situation resolved itself after a visit to a podiatrist and the application of Mupirocin (an antibiotic cream).
I realize this post seems to be rather mundane, but I write it to demonstrate virtually nothing is mundane when it comes to taking care of an autistic child. I only wish it were so. There are challenges to deal with in every aspect of their lives. As I finish drafting this post, I know that Gracie’s nails need to be cut again already. But I’ll let that wait until tomorrow, as she’s now sound asleep.