A daily task that would be particularlyamenable to an autism-specificadaptation is helping children brushtheir teeth. Parents of children withautism often find it helpful to buildstep-by-step routines that the child canfollow to achieve a particular goal.Research has shown that autisticchildren have sensitive gums andteeth. Coupled with the recognitionthat teeth brushing is heavilydependent on internally motivatedadherence to a routine, it isunsurprising that autistic children oftenfind brushing their teeth to be andifficult chore. There is a need for anassistive toothbrush that walks these children through the process of brushing their teeth properly. Such a device must motivate and engage them while in use, and it must minimize discomfort.
Research has shown that lights, music, and vibration are helpful stimuli for coaching children with autism. The Specially Equipped Autistic Brush (SEA-Brush) caters to this population of children by integrating all three stimulus types to coach them towards ideal brushing habits. When brushing, SEA-brush users have the choice to play music, lights or vibration/toothbrush automation. Depending on their preferences and sensitivities, individuals may choose to activate all of the features or only a subset. There are two main buttons on the brush—one that gives power to the brush by turning on the lights and vibration, and a second that allows the user to control the vibration intensity. The toothbrush housing transmits the vibration to the user’s hands, which many children with autism find soothing. When the brush is turned on, a melody of children’s songs plays for 2 minutes, the recommended brushing time. When they stop playing, the child knows he or she has successfully completed the routine. The SEA-brush is an effective intervention for families supporting a child with autism who is working to learn a routine conducive to healthy brushing habits.