YouTube Reminders

As parents, it’s our job to creatively solve problems.  My problem: I’m not convinced my 13 year old son with Autism is washing his face well enough.  And puberty is becoming less forgiving by the day.  I’m not sure if this is a problem that all mom’s face.  But it’s one I’m facing now.

We’ve taught our son how to wash his face, shown him YouTube videos, everything, but if I forget to remind him, I’m not convinced he’s getting the job done.  When I have him wash his face in front of me BEFORE entering the shower, I can see a noticeable difference in his skin the next day.  This is a tough problem.  A 13 year old boy does NOT need his mother interfering with the shower routine.  He needs to learn it and independently do it.  When I remind him, I feel like a mother hen, nagging him.  And by his response to me, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t appreciate what I have to say about the matter.

So this week, I’m trying something new.  I call it a YouTube Reminder.  I’ve added a reminder to his electronic calendar which he can see on his iPhone:

Wash Your Face in the Shower (

It’s set to pop up on his phone about 15 minutes before he takes his shower.  Since routines run my son’s life, he predictably takes a shower at 7:45 each evening so I can use this to my advantage  My hope is that he’ll see this just before he enters the shower, and he’ll click on the YouTube link.  He’ll see the pretty girl, talking about how you need to wash your face to avoid pimples, and maybe, just maybe, he’ll not only remember, but he’ll do the thorough job that I know he’s capable of because Vanessa Hudgens told him to.

As is the case with all of the things like this that I’ve tried over the years, it may be a huge success – or a terrible failure.  But it’s worth a try.  It may even create a more positive dialog where we can laugh about the video and the topic won’t put him in such a defensive place as he’s trying so hard to become more independent.  (Something I celebrate despite the difficulties.)

2 weeks later…

I’m calling my experiment successful.  This turned out to be a more fun and positive way to remind him about washing his face.  It changed the conversation from one of a nagging mom to something funny we could laugh about.

Since my son isn’t verbal in the same way as a typical kid, here’s how I know he’s got the point.  He started talking about his age and how it relates to his sister’s age.  She had a birthday last weekend and here’s what he said (paraphrased):

“When she is 9, I will turn 13.  When she is 10, I will be 14.  When she is 11, I will be 15.  When she is 12, she will need to wash her face.  When I turn 16, I can drive a car.”

He’s got the point. 🙂


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