Teaching Nose-Blowing to a Child or Adult with Autism

Experiencing a cold, allergies, or symptoms of the flu is annoying for many people. A runny or stuffy nose is especially difficult for a child or adult with autism who cannot blow his or her nose.

My son, Lucas, in his late teens, had still not mastered this nose blowing skill. During one of his colds, I decided to once again try to tackle teaching him this skill by coming up with procedures that would lead to nose blowing success. While he didn’t completely mastered the skill right away, we made great gains!

Here are the steps and a short video to illustrate the techniques we are using:

  1. Start a nose-blowing program when the child is well with no stuffy or runny nose.
  2. Practice these steps a few times/day through imitation:
    1. Deep breath in through open mouth, cover mouth, and let air out through nose (x 3).
    2. Deep breath in through open mouth, cover one nostril and close mouth, blowing air out of one nostril (x 3 each side).
    3. Hold clipboard or hardback book above child’s mouth and under nose and have him blow a cotton ball with nose (x 3).
    4. Open tissue, deep breath in through mouth, close mouth and breathe out through nose while covering nose with tissue (x3)

For a detailed demonstration, watch this 1-minute video