New Resource for Parents of Autistic Children
The National Museum of Dentistry has created a new resource to help parents of children with autism spectrum disorder succeed in teaching good oral healthcare. Healthy Smiles for Autism is a free guide that helps parents teach children with autism spectrum disorder how to brush and floss with the help of step-by-step instruction, social stories, and visual sequencing cards for brushing.
The Healthy Smiles for Autism guide was created to empower parents of children with autism spectrum disorder with usable tools to help effectively teach their children an oral health routine. The guide also provides information to help parents prepare their children for a first dental visit.
“We want to be able to give parents readily usable tools to help their children to develop a good oral hygiene regimen,” said National Museum of Dentistry Executive Director Jonathan Landers. “We’ve combined best practices for autism education, such as visual sequencing cards and rewards systems, with proven personal oral hygiene techniques to help make the process a little bit easier.”
The National Museum of Dentistry partnered with Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Center for Autism and Related Disorders and University of Maryland Baltimore College of Dental Surgery to develop these best practices in oral health care for children with autism spectrum disorder.
Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others – including the dentist. Dental care is the leading unmet healthcare need among children with special needs. Across all income levels, children with special needs are almost twice as likely to have an unmet oral health care need as their peers without special needs, according to the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center.
The National Museum of Dentistry, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, develops unique learning opportunities to engage the public in discovering how to have a healthy mouth for life. Also available free to the public is the MouthPower.org website that teaches good oral health skills to children, and the GetMouthPower.org that reveals the special oral health care needs of adults over the age of fifty.