Introducing a new series by Progressive therapist, Alexis Martinez, taking you in 8 parts through teaching each of your child’s most common daily routines. First, brushing teeth!
During the course of work in the field, we have seen a growing need for a reference guide or “jumping off point” for training daily skills for many parents and caregivers who work with children with ASD.
Many parents ask questions about the fundamentals of teaching daily life skills and so we thought it would be a good idea to go through a few with step by step instructions on how to work with them for both caregivers and therapists. Each skill or activity is aimed at improving independence in the child and at improving your communication within your household between siblings with and without ASD as well as between parents. Remember, before we begin, the most important definition of all :
Reinforcer– something the person really wants (rewards, items, activity, attention, etc..)
AND also….Before starting to teach any behavior, make clear to the child what the reinforcer for completing each step will be, as well as the reinforcer for completing the activity.
Brushing Your Teeth
Step 1: Child and caregiver approach the sink.
- During this step, the goal is to get the child to approach the sink for teeth brushing time. Once the child has mastered this step, you can start to teach the next step.
Step 2: Grab toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Once the child approaches the sink, you can begin to teach the child to reach for the toothbrush from the toothbrush holder and to grab the toothpaste.
Step 3: Apply small amount of toothpaste to toothbrush.
- Once the child has the toothpaste in hand, you can assist with uncapping the toothpaste and the child can apply a small amount of toothpaste to the brush.
Step 4: Open water and apply small amount water to toothbrush.
- Next the toothpaste can be set down and the water can be opened a little bit and a small amount of water can be applied to toothbrush.
Step 5: Brush teeth in circles until mouth tastes like toothpaste/foamy or about 30 seconds.
- During this step, the child should brush teeth until mouth is all foamy and tastes like toothpaste/minty flavor.
Step 6: Rinse out mouth with water. Spit out all the toothpaste.
- In this last step, you should teach the child to fill their mouth with water and swish/swash it around and spit the water into the sink and turn off the water.
*It is important to note that some children may need to be taught the entire set of steps and others may only need to be retrained in particular steps of the skill.
Remember when attempting to train any skill, the behavior always must be broken down into steps. Once each step is trained, it will result in being able to regularly do the skill. When attempting to train a behavior, remember to make sure you have a small reinforcer (something that the child really wants) ready for training steps and to have a strong reinforcer for completing the task. Some of these may be modified depending on the skill level and age of your child. Reinforcers will be slowly removed with time from each step or from the individual step being learned as the child learns the skill.
In our next 7 posts, we will take you step by step through the rest of your little one’s common daily routines, with guides on how to teach them!