Oral Hygiene for Kids with Autism

Oral Hygiene for Kids with Autism

How to teach brushing skills & maintain proper oral hygiene?

We need to give special consideration to maintaining oral hygiene in kids with autism, which might be a challenging one, especially when the kid has oral sensitivity.

Many kids have oral sensitivity therefore, For kids with oral sensitivity, a detailed sensory assessment has to be done by the professionals, which is followed by desensitization therapy.

The prerequisites for brushing skill:

  1. Able to open and close the lid
  2. Able to hold the brush
  3. Attention and concentration
  4. Knowing directions

Like the other ADL skills, oral hygiene for kids & the brushing task can also be split into steps.

Step 1Show a video of the brushing activity so that the child would anticipate the skill he is going to learn.
Step 2Model yourself and prove to the kid that it is not going to hurt and it’s part of our daily routine.
Step 3Choose a bright-colored brush or a color of the child’s interest. Make sure to choose soft-bristled brushes only. Choosing a battery-operated brush will be easier for the kid to learn at the beginning.
Step 4Choose a toothpaste that should not irritate the child. If the child can’t tolerate any kind of toothpaste, then using just the brush should be fine.
Step 5Make the child stand in front of the mirror and the trainer should stand behind the child
Step 6Now make the child press a little amount of toothpaste, from the tube, on his/her brush (assistance can be provided initially and don’t forget  to fade the assistance)
Step 7Now let the child grab the toothbrush.
Step 8Prepare a poster or stick pictures that explain the direction for brushing. Hold the child’s hand and assist the child along with the verbal command.
Step 9Once the brushing is done, make the child bend down to spit the foam, here, again the verbal command is very essential.
Step 10Next, allow the child to clean the brush thoroughly and replace it in the stand.
Step 11It’s time to wash and gargle the mouth with water, in a bent down position. The temperature of the water must not be too cold nor hot, make sure it is lukewarm. A verbal command to gargle and spit has to be repeated each time so that, the child would remember to spit.

It is crucial to maintain the bent down position for spitting the foam while washing the mouth. Therefore, there will be fewer chances for the child to swallow the foam and water.

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