DC always had a problem with brushing his teeth. Like most things hygiene-wise, if he can not see it, he does not understand it. If his hands are not dirty (dirt that he can actually see) then why should he have to wash his hands so often? Why take a shower, wash his face, brush his teeth? If he can’t see it, it does not exist. No amount of explanation on my part makes it any clearer to him. He does all of these “chores” because I tell him to and only because I tell him to. And because it is something that I am telling him to do he, not really understanding, will pretty much just go through the motions. Yes, he is sent back to do it again and yes, many times I have to stand there to be sure he is doing it correctly or just do it myself.
Brushing his teeth was always the hardest for him.
About a year ago, I was reading a post from Autism-Mom about dental hygiene (the post below is an updated version of the post I originally read). A portion of that post was devoted to a toothbrush specially designed for children on the spectrum. Just by looking at the photo, before even reading the particulars, it made perfect sense. I ordered some for DC and while I was at it I ordered some for myself, since I seem to spend my life in the dentist’s office. It couldn’t hurt, right?
I have to say that even when he just goes through the motions this toothbrush has improved his brushing enormously. I rarely have to send him back to brush again and I have not had to do it for him – not even once.
Here’s the kicker….
I had a dental appointment this morning (with the good dentist and the good hygienist at the good dental practice – not the periodontist ). I only just opened my mouth and she said “Oh My God! You have no stain! What have you been doing?”
I drink A LOT of coffee and staining, specifically behind my front teeth is always a big job – a power tool – worthy job. I told her that the only thing that was different was the new toothbrush. She immediately looked it up on Amazon, called another hygienist in to see it and decided she would buy a few. I told her that the last time I was at the periodontist – the last time I stayed for the appointment – that is, he had made the same observation. The lack of stain was what first impressed her, but once we got past that excitement, it seemed that everything had improved, even after missing a cleaning.
(I do normally have a cleaning every three months, alternating between the periodontist and my regular dentist but I missed my last appointment with her because it was scheduled on the Monday after my step-father’s wake and funeral weekend and it just slipped my mind.)
It always seems as if I am fighting a loosing battle with my teeth, which were perfect until I was pregnant with DC and my teeth seemed to go straight downhill. This was THE fastest and least painful cleaning I have ever had. For the never-ending amount of time that I usually spend in the dental chair, this was a fantastic thing!
DENTAL HEALTH – BRUSHING HIS GUMS – via: Autism-Mom (reprinted with permission)
As the Navigator gets closer to entering puberty and adolescence, I have been thinking about how to add an increasing number of personal hygiene tasks to his routines.
Especially since we are still struggling with basic tooth brushing.
The Navigator doesn’t like brushing his gums. We have tried traditional toothbrushes, followed up by rubbing his gums, but he was not remotely interested in doing that. It took too long as far as he was concerned.
He liked using an electric toothbrush with a spinning head, but that did not solve the issue of his uncleaned gums.
Please Visit Autism-Mom for the rest of the post…
I do not receive any compensation of any kind for writing about this product. I am writing about our experience only. It works well for us.
DC’s favorite day of camp, Hat Day. I tried to talk him into the chicken hat, but he wasn’t going with it. He chose the green hat. He chose this hat because it had the long strings that are like long hair to him. There is nothing he wants more than to have long hair, but unfortunately his hair grows out and not down. He wore the hat. He won an award. Above all else, the morning went so much easier than last year, when I was afraid his favorite day would be ruined. Much easier….
Today is DC’s first full day at camp. He has attended this camp since he was 5 years old. He loves it. Before he left the school system at age 21, he was able to attend 9 to 3 every day for 7 weeks each summer. Now that he has a “job”, he normally uses some of his allotted vacation time to attend for two weeks of the season. He does and has always been able to attend the twice weekly after camp program.
He attended when he was at the camp full-time and still attends now after work. Because we took an extra vacation this year, he was not able to take an extra two weeks off to attend camp as he usually does, so I opted for him to go one day a week on Friday in addition to the two “after camp” sessions that do not interfere with his work schedule or his time off. This works out well because I am off from work on Fridays for the summer and I don’t have to figure out and schedule how he will get there each day.
The camp has what they call “Special Days” (more about that in an upcoming ‘Everything is Related’ post) listed on the calendar. Because of DC’s schedule he has missed one of his favorites, Hat Day (or “silly hat day” as DC likes to call it) for the past 3 years. He still has every single construction paper award that he has ever won for his hats on Hat Day and he is very proud of them.
Today happened to be Hat Day. As soon as DC discovered that he would be at camp on Hat Day, it was all that I heard about. We went through his collection of silly hats and he chose the cheeseburger hat.
We arrived at camp and he got himself situated. Although the director and assistant director are aware of his seizure, I wanted to stress again the fact that I really believed it had to do with the heat and the all-around stress of the day we had that day. I also wanted to talk to his group leader personally.
We were a bit early so the staff was still in their morning meeting. DC decided that he had to use the restroom. He came right out and informed me that there was no toilet paper.
(for someone who was so uncomfortable writing a post about toilet paper that I had to use a code word – ‘paper towels’, I do get that it is odd that I am writing a post about it again)
I got him a big handful from the lady’s room and he went back in, no problem…. or so I thought. When he came out, he would not let go of the fact that there was not toilet paper in the men’s room, even though he didn’t need it any longer, it wasn’t there. I told him that I would let the director know as soon as they were finished with their meeting – but he would just not calm down about it.
When the meeting was over he came with me – still ranting – to talk to the director. First I explained to her that what was going on right then was because there is no toilet paper in the rest room. She immediately called to one of her staff to replenish the supply. This did not do a thing to calm him down. It was too late. This coupled with his normal ‘arrival anxiety’ was too much and even when I showed him the new rolls, it didn’t matter, he was too far into this now. It went on for a while.
When he finally did calm down about that, he moved right into his normal routine of obsessing about me.
“I’m sorry, calm down now. I’m sorry. Not ‘crappy’ anymore “- (DC – speak “crabby”).
As many times that I have told him over the years that he has nothing to be sorry about (and as many times as I told him this morning), this is what happens. If we are home together, this could and has gone on for hours. If I am dropping him off somewhere, I try to just get him calm enough so that I can leave, because if I am there he will continue to perseverate on me.
I was worried and having seizure flashbacks because it was hot and now he was upset, so I was afraid to leave when I normally would have. He finally did calm down to the point where I felt comfortable leaving – not to say I feel comfortable leaving him anywhere since the seizure, but as comfortable as I can be now-a-days.
As I was leaving he moved on to obsessing about whether I was going to come back and when I was going to pick him up. This is his regular obsession – I do not know why – I have never been so much as a minute late in picking him up anywhere, ever, but it has always been a thing with him.
Now that he had moved on to “Mom is coming back”, his regular routine, I was sure it was safe to leave.
I hope his anxiety this morning does not ruin “Hat Day” for him. Fingers crossed that he comes home with that construction paper award today, because that will most certainly fix everything.
and later ……
A repeat from last year. DC’s opinion about thunder, lightening or fireworks has not changed in the slightest. It’s unfortunate that firework season falls right around the same time as thunder storm season. But once I convince him that it is not thunder I will be chasing him out the door and hopefully this year will remember not to put the pajamas on too early. Happy 4th!
Thunder and Lightning – Happy 4th!
I know that fireworks are at times a big issue for children and adults with autism. I just finished reading a blog from Autism-Mom on this very subject (give it a read if you have a minute).
This time of year is difficult for DC. It is not only Thunder and Lightening Season, but as we know, the firecrackers seem to begin exploding around the middle of June in anticipation of the 4th. I generally spend these two or three weeks explaining to DC over and over again that the noise he is hearing is not a storm, it is just someone shooting off fireworks. He is okay with that. For a child (man) that just cannot stand a storm, he was always fine with fireworks. He actually really LOVES fireworks, he always has.
To look at him when the first few go off, one would think he is terrified. He nearly jumps out of his skin and covers his ears, even when he knows they’re coming, but then he laughs and after the first few the ear covering is ends and he is stimming away.
We are fortunate that we never really have to go anywhere to see a really great 4th of July fireworks display. Someone in town (and I still really haven’t determined who) puts on a really fabulous display every year. At one time there were two big displays, one earlier in the evening that we could see perfectly from the front of the house and the other larger display that we could see perfectly from the back of our house.
I never really know what night they will go off, until they start. Generally I forget all about them until they start. I guarantee you that whether it be tonight or tomorrow night, as soon as DC realizes that what he is hearing is not thunder we, like *Autism Hippie will be standing outside in our pajamas.
Maybe this year I will try to think ahead and remember not to get changed so early…….
*(I can’t find it now but I read a status the other day from Autism Hippie about standing outside in their pajamas watching fireworks. It made me laugh because I realized that we are not the only ones out watching fireworks in our pajamas! Fortunately the front of the house fireworks are no more so at least we won’t be out in the street in our pajamas as in years past)