April 7, 2015
by Marielaina Perrone DDS
Autism – a developmental disability that significantly affects communication (both verbal and non verbal) and social interaction, generally evident before age three, that adversely affects educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autistic people are, engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences.
-1 percent of the population of children in the U.S. ages 3-17 have an autism spectrum disorder.
-Prevalence is estimated at 1 in 88 births.
-1 to 1.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder.
Autistic patients, as well as patients with similar behavioral and possibly intellectual challenges, present a unique challenge for dentists as well as parents. Most dental procedures involve the use of bright lights, loud noises, and touching of a very sensitive part of the body. Most people in general are uneasy, and apprehensive about dental treatment, imagine what it is like for an autistic child or adult.
Hypersensitivity to one’s environment is usually a hallmark trait for most autistic patients. This makes dental care even more challenging, as they may react adversely to the sensory overload. Autistic patients do not like change in their daily schedules, new noises, new people, or new activities. In the past, these challenges would lead to most dentists turning away such patients, but in modern dentistry this is no longer the case. There are many dentists who have training to help them with the special challenges that come with autism.
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