More than 2 percent of adults in America, or 5,437,988 are living with a form of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), according to the Centers for Disease Control. Although dental patients with ASD will not present different dental problems from other patients, the Autism Tool Kit for Dental Professionals by the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network offers suggestions to help dental professionals ensure a successful office visit during National Autism Awareness Month and every day.
Individuals with ASD can have difficulties with social interaction, communication, and repetitive behaviors. Before the dental appointment, office staff should receive information on how to care for a patient with ASD. The Autism Tool Kit for Dental Professionals provides helpful guidance:
- The front desk will set the tone for the appointment. Front desk staff should be aware that a patient with ASD will be coming into the office that day and advised on any special accommodations that are needed for a smooth visit.
- The role of the dental hygienist is to continue to make the patient comfortable. Patient anxiety tends to set in at this stage. Having a private conversation with the primary caretaker as to what environment will best suit the patient is important. If another patient is crying in the waiting room or operatory, this could spike the anxiety levels of the patient with ASD.
- As the dentist, there are several key practices to implement both before the patient arrives at the office and throughout the visit.
Need more helpful guidance on providing dental treatment for patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder?
To read more about how to properly treat patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder, check out the Autism Tool Kit for Dental Professionals by the Autism Treatment Network: https://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/2018-08/Dental%20Professionals%20Tool%20Kit.pdf