Graduation Year


Document Type


Degree Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy


Background: One in 36 children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Oral health for children with ASD is significantly impacted by sensory sensitivities and communication delays. Purpose: The purpose of this project is to provide special education preschool teachers with an evidence-based oral hygiene module. This module is focused toward giving teachers the confidence and accommodations to provide a daily toothbrushing program. Theoretical Framework. The theoretical framework used in the development of this Capstone is Cognitive Learning Theory, the Theory of Planned Behavior, and Occupational Justice.

Methods. A sampling of preschool teachers of students with level 3 ASD was used. A training module on the value and strategies for toothbrushing as a part of a preschool routine was implemented with teachers in a school district. Teachers were asked to complete a pre-survey directly following the training. They were given four weeks to implement the program and a post-survey was sent. Comparison between the pre- and post-surveys measured teachers’ confidence and willingness to integrate a classroom toothbrushing program.

Results. The results of this study revealed preschool teachers are confident using their skills with sensory and communication accommodations for students with level 3 ASD in the development of a toothbrushing program in the classroom. Barriers that prevent teachers from implementing toothbrushing were staffing levels and teacher experience. Conclusions: Preschool teachers of students with level 3 ASD are competent in using evidence based sensory and communication supports in their classrooms. The classrooms designed for children with ASD are an ideal environment to implement the routine of toothbrushing. Although, teachers are aware of the importance of toothbrushing they do not perceive this as part of their role to implement in classroom routines.

Faculty Mentor

Shirley O'Brien, Ph.D., OTR/L,FAOTA

Department Affiliation

Occupational Therapy

Committee Member

Laura Bray, Phd., OTR/L

Department Affiliation

Occupational Therapy

Department Affiliation

Occupational Therapy