Autism & Toothbrushing: Yes It`s Possible!
By Michelle Ibarra | February 9, 2019
It’s well known that all cleaning routines can be challenging for children, especially those on the autism spectrum. Toothbrushing can be a specially challenging situation due to sensory issues and sensory aversions.
Most parents on the spectrum consider it a win when they can brush their child’s teeth once a day, doing it three times sounds impossible right? However, with little patience and a few tips that we will share with you, you can ease this task both for you and your child.
Toothbrushing Tips For Autistic Parents
1.- Pick the right toothbrush: Picking the right toothbrush for an ASD child is like finding the treasure after the rainbow, however, it is possible to find something suitable for your child. If your child is still teething you can clean his gums with a soft cloth, but if he is over 2 years old you can transition to children’s toothbrush. Regular soft, toothbrush for children can be of great help, however, we highly encourage you to invest on a 3 sided brush that cleans faster and better. It is specially designed for ASD children and it is seriously a game changer, you can find more about it here.
Toothpaste can be also a challenge because strong mint flavors can make your child gag, or sweet versions can be considered as candy. To avoid both problems we encourage you to pick a neutral flavor, fluoride-free paste to avoid both gagging and eating. If your child is willing to brush his teeth himself, allow him to do so, but help him reach his molars and ensure that he has rinsed well.
2.- Be consistent: Remember, in ASD children consistency is everything! Pick the same time to brush their teeth and follow the same routine. You can even count the number of times they are supposed to brush each side to make it even more fun and easy to remember for your child.
3.- Make it fun: Sing funny songs, use visuals, have a pretty brush holder, give them a tiny bank to reach the sink, and use any fun resource that you have to ease the task for your child. Counting out loud can facilitate things for it takes attention towards counting rather than sensory aversions.
4.- Involve everyone: Children learn by example, and if they see that the whole family is involved it would be easier for them to want to join. Gathering together will allow your child to see this as a family moment, rather than an unwanted toothbrushing one.
5.- Relax: Remember, learning a new skill is always a process that would involve easier and harder days and that is actually okay! There is not a due-date for learning and no need to feel pressured by it, eventually and with patience, your child will be mastering the task in no time and it will be easier for everyone. Be patient with yourself and your children and enjoy each step of the journey!
At WSCC, we offer support for autistic families and their children with stem cell therapy treatments that can transform autistic conditions by healing the gut, decreasing inflammation and improving overall brain functioning. Contact us and join an autistic community of support and companionship. Remember, you are not alone!
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