Tips for Treating Patients With Autism
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex, lifelong developmental disability that impairs communication, as well as social, behavioral, and intellectual functioning. As a catchall term, ASD includes autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, and Asperger syndrome, all of which differ in the number and severity of diagnostic features. Data from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate the prevalence of ASD is approximately one in 68 children (and the rate is 4.5 times higher in boys); in addition, the condition is reported in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic populations.
Patients with autism spectrum disorder may display behaviors ranging from aggression and being inattentive or hyperactive, to having a short attention span and/or having difficulty listening.
Patients with autism who are described as extremely uncooperative are at low risk for periodontal diseases and dental caries.
Oral health professionals can implement which strategies to reduce dental anxiety in patients with autism spectrum disorder?
When treating patients with autism spectrum disorder, the planning phase should involve interprofessional collaboration as part of a team approach to care.
For patients who have issues with cooperation, tongue thrusting, or nonnutritive chewing, stabilization of the patient’s head, lips, and tongue is needed to maintain procedural safety.
Oral care providers can more effectively communicate treatment and provide a dental environment tailored for patients with autism spectrum disorder by drawing from special techniques, such as desensitizing, developing a sensory adapted environment, utilizing a picture exchange communication system, and knowing when to refer for advanced behavior guidance techniques.
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