How To Make Tooth Brushing Easier For Kids with Autism and Their Parents
Being a parent of an autistic child is not an easy thing. Your child is going to be dealing with a lot of sensory overload, even for some of the simple things. Did you know that when a child with autism visits his or her first dentist, they already have mouth issues that need to be addressed?
Autism is not an easy disorder. There are many factors parents have to navigate to help their kids grow, so they can lead productive lives as adults.
Below are some tips for parents who need some extra help when their kids are brushing their teeth.
- Start by teaching your child the names of the various items in the bathroom. Take your time. Every child is different. There is no set plan because some learn faster than others. Plus, they are already dealing with sensory overload on any given day. Teaching your child too fast could result in a breakdown and other mental health issues. As with anything else concerning an autistic child, this requires a great deal of sensitivity.
- Please do not get angry, upset, or agitated if they do not get it right away. Try reinforcing specific vocabulary during each day. That repetitive behavior is going to help them remember better. You could also show them clips online, while talking through the process with him or her.
- Try your best to provide foods and beverages that will reduce the amount of cavities that could occur. Children with autism develop a list of likes and dislikes fast. Remember those items on the list. Foods and drinks high in sugar and acid can break down the enamel in the mouth faster. You also might want to talk to their dentist about what he or she recommends. There might be some foods and drinks your child wants, but is not good for them. Talk to their dentist about how to have those important conversations with your child in a way he or she will understand.
- Once again, create a schedule for every day. That is especially important for kids with autism. Create a plan that outlines the different activities for brushing and getting ready for the day. Break the timeline down to let them know how long each activity should take. Creating an outline and diagram (with the use of visuals), will also improve their memory retention. Show them where things go, making sure that you keep true to the visuals. That will create more repetitive responses for the child to help them keep on track. Do not forget to check in with the dentist to make sure everything is done correctly.