15 Recommendations on Brushing an Autistic Child's Teeth
Autistic children are just a little bit harder to work with as a parent, with brushing teeth one of the top problems on the list. Children with autism are hypersensitive, feeling things more thoroughly than the typically developing child. Tastes and smells can become too much. Meltdowns can become commonplace and severe. Parents in such a situation would become extremely frustrated themselves.
Autism is a genetic disorder accentuated by environmental factors which can make the simplest things so difficult for both parent and child. Men are over 4 times more likely to be diagnosed than women, with over 1 in 88 found on the spectrum. Moreover, the male and female brain respond to the brain rewiring differently, with gender playing a major role in how the children can adapt in society.
Some major difficulties are found in:
Finding ways to calm a meltdown
Finding ways to reduce disruptive behavior
Ensuring a holiday or get together goes smoothly
Ensuring the items in the fridge and pantry are not excessively devoured, hidden, destroyed or simply stacked in very strange patterns
Parents do complain almost all the time about their autistic child's absolute impossible nature when it comes to having his teeth cleaned. Everything makes a difference and some tips are offered by parents who have faced the disaster and come out alive and well.
- Take things slow; there is no need to rush through the process. There are no horsemen chasing you and an autistic child often requires more time than a typical child when learning to deal with something that might be bothering them terribly.
- Talk the child through it. Left, then right, over and over until it becomes routine.
- Count the strokes. When you give a definite amount to go for, there is a goal set. The child knows ho much longer he must endure it, making it easier to go through with it. He also knows exactly when to switch sides, go up and down or back and forth.
- Give the child as much control as you can. When they get to decide times when to brush teeth, how many strokes to do, what toothbrush to use, what toothpaste to use, what stool to stand on, etc., things will be easier on both of you.
- Let the child do most of the brushing. No matter how terribly it works out, it empowers the child and lets him or her feel capable. You can always go over it afterwards.
- If the brush is a problem, opt out and go for a toothette with a sponge at the end instead of bristles.
- If the frothing of the toothpaste is a problem, go for one that does not froth or have a strong taste. If all else fails, keep to water and perhaps add mouthwash. You can make your own mouthwash as well.
- Some parents recommend using a vibrating toothbrush as it counteracts the oral sensitivity and provides the necessary stimulation.
- A soft washcloth is also used for some children with oral sensitivities, as it is less abrasive but get the same clean.
- Rewards for brushing are a good idea but be careful that they do not become too dependent on it. Make it small rewards like a kiss or tucking in a special way instead of something you might not be able to have on hand constantly.
- Having a star system is also a good idea when it comes to rewards. Have a chart up in the bathroom and give a star sticker every time the child brushes his or her teeth. When it is filled up, you decide the best course of action.
- Play brushing games. You both brush at the same time, the child brushes you and then you brush back, number games, superhero games, the sky is the limit. When something is made fun for a child, he or she learns better, quicker and with less hassle.
- Sing a silly song that he can smile and laugh along with while brushing teeth. The process is thus made fun and things are done rather hassle-free.
- Certain mouthwashes seem to dye the plaque a red color, which gives an excellent visual for the children to tackle.
- Keep to a certain routine. That might include going to the bathroom, washing hands with soap, rinsing it off, drying hands and then brushing teeth. If the child follows a certain routine every day and every night, it is easier on both parties to follow through.
Every child responds differently to different stimuli. Figure out what it is that bothers your autistic child most and tackle one problem at a time. Tweak any of the techniques mentioned to suit your autistic child's individual needs and you should be able to get those little teeth brushed up nicely in no time.