T lost his first tooth today! It had been loose for at least a month, but today it was finally just hanging my a thread. I admit to helping it out a bit! Once it was free in his mouth, he tried to chew it - but I retrieved it for the tooth fairy pillow tonight. He was really happy to see his tooth in my hand! He smiled and jumped a little bit, and I gave him a big hug. What a cool moment.
We've been preparing him for this for a long time - ever since we noticed that the tooth was loose. We've been telling him what amounts to a "social story" - these are little stories that explain a social situation to a child who doesn't understand typical social situations. (We have social stories for going to the grocery, using the toilet, and we wrote one for our move, too.) It amounted to something like this:
Your tooth feels loose. This is okay. This is what your baby teeth will do. Your baby teeth are the ones you have in your mouth now. One by one, they will all get loose and fall out, and that is okay. New, big boy teeth will grow in where the baby tooth was, and they'll be your big boy teeth, just like Mommy's and Daddy's.
Ultimately, the best thing to do is print each sentence on a separate piece of paper and put a simple picture illustrating the sentence on that page. You create a book this way, and that becomes the social story.
So now the question is this: do we play up the tooth fairy deal, or would that be too confusing? I mean, people with autism take things quite literally, and telling him that there is a tooth fairy when there really isn't one is a tough call. We have the same issue with Santa. Well, what we've decided to do is tell the story about the tooth fairy and Santa, tell him that it is indeed a STORY so that there isn't some major trauma later about Mom & Dad telling him to believe something that isn't true. I guess this is an issue for most kids, but it seems particularly challenging when these kids are so literal in their understanding that it may be tough to separate fact from fiction.
Anyway, it's been a big day for our little guy...who is getting bigger all the time. I'm so proud of him!