In an effort to encourage our students to learn about oral health and practice good oral hygiene, we introduced the Colgate-Palmolive ‘Bright Smiles, Bright Futures’ program initiative to encourage long-term dental care habits.
With the help from “Dr. Rabbit and The Defenders” the Bright Smiles, Bright Futures program teaches students about dentists, dental hygienists, brushing, and flossing in a fun and innovative way.
This year, Shema Kolainu – Hear Our Voices Occupational
Moses, M.S., OTR/L. helped students work on functional living skills for daily life (such as washing hands, dressing, and brushing teeth), a big part of Occupational Therapy.
Oral hygiene is a skill learned by all children, but it can be particularly challenging to individuals with Autism. Many children have oral sensitivities and may need to be desensitized before beginning to work on the actual task of brushing teeth.
Because there are so many variations in how an individual with Autism may present and the unique challenges, he/she faces, teaching a person with Autism to brush their teeth varies from person to person.
When teaching daily living skills, it is important to break down each step into smaller components so a student can gain a sense of mastery over each part of a task. Students learn and practice each step of the task until they are able to learn, memorize, and perform independently.
Using task analysis, visual supports, and positive reinforcement, the students at Shema Kolainu worked on motor planning, grading pressure and sequencing steps to figure out how to open a toothpaste bottle, squeeze out an appropriate amount, and maneuver a toothbrush to thoroughly brush all their teeth, while practicing it as part of their daily morning routine. The ‘Bright Smiles, Bright Futures’ kit includes small packets of individually bundled toothpaste and toothbrushes.
Students get to decorate and label their own toothbrush to gain a sense of ownership and feel proud to use their personal toothbrush. The kit also includes visual supports and fun worksheets, such as “Connect the Floss.”
At the completion of the program, students received a Tooth Defender Certificate which they proudly display at home.