Teaching autonomy is one of the main objectives in the therapy of children with ASD. One of the challenges that parents and caregivers of children with autism face, especially in the early years, is to teach personal hygiene to children. Dental hygiene is one of the most difficult ones. Sometimes brushing teeth or the taste of the toothpaste overstimulate the child and makes it even more difficult for them to brush their teeth regularly. Also, as a multi-step task, children with autism may have problems to learn which step comes first and which step comes later.
It may take time to learning personal hygiene skills and especially to become independent. That is why it is important to take your time and practice!
Visual support is important, because in many cases, children with ASD understand visualization better and easier that speech. There are various ways to use visual support for personal hygiene and dental care. You can use simple drawings or photographs of a person that illustrates each action. Using PECS system is also a good solution. Visualizing the steps of a task makes it easier for children to follow the steps autonomously. PECS cards can be attached to the wall in the bathroom, so the child can have them in front of him while brushing teeth.
However, first children need to learn which photo represents which step of the action.
In this case, a social robot can come handy!
QTrobot can demonstrate to children how to brush their teeth and how to follow the steps. Combining the robot demonstration with PECS cards, help children to associate each step with an image which represents the step. In this method of teaching, becoming autonomous in using PECS cards in brushing teeth will be much easier for children with autism.
Please watch a demo of QTrobot teaching brushing teeth step by step.