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Autism Speaks Launches Dental Tool Kit to Promote Good Oral Health Care for Kids with Autism

Video and Print Guides Include Useful Tips for Parents and Dental Professionals

NEW YORK, NY (June 8, 2010) – Autism Speaks, North America's largest autism science and advocacy organization, today released a new Dental Tool Kit to help parents promote good, life-long oral health care habits for their kids with autism. The free kit, which includes both a video and a downloadable printed guide, features tips for improving oral hygiene at home, as well as information about how parents and dental professionals can make a visit to the dentist's office less stressful and more productive.

The Dental Tool Kit is the result of unrestricted educational grants to Autism Speaks from Colgate and Philips Sonicare, and the collaborative efforts of all three organizations. The Dental Tool Kit offers tips on brushing and flossing at home and for preparing for a dental visit. Because children with autism often benefit from visual guides and schedules, the kit includes a visual depiction of a dental visit that parents can review with their child in advance. It also features a questionnaire that families can provide to their dentist before the visit that explains some of the specific challenges that may affect their child with autism. For dental professionals, there is information about autism and suggestions for making their interactions with patients with autism more successful.

“As the parent of a child with autism, I know that home oral health care, as well as visits to the dentist's office can be challenging for some children with autism,” said Lisa Goring, Autism Speaks national director of Family Services. “We hope that our Dental Tool Kit will give parents some useful strategies for promoting good oral health care habits, and provide dental professionals with information that will make treating kids with autism a more positive experience for all.”

"Colgate is honored to have been able to help support this exciting initiative that we hope will help many families get the dental care they need for their loved ones with autism," said Karen A. Raposa, senior manager of professional relations for Colgate.

“Philips Sonicare aspires to improve the quality of people's lives with meaningful innovation,” said Erik Hollander, senior director of professional marketing for Philips Sonicare. “We are proud to support Autism Speaks and its great efforts to help families living with autism understand the benefits of good oral hygiene and how to make tooth brushing a fun, enjoyable experience.”

The complementary video features insights from two dentists, Michele Savel, DDS, and Richard Holstein, DMD, FADH, both of whom regularly treat young patients with autism.

“I'm confident that this will be a great tool for families of with children with special needs,” said Dr. Savel. “Many parents think it's not an option to get their kids to brush their teeth, let alone take their kids to the dentist. This video can educate parents and open a door that most parents assume is closed.” (See a blog post from Dr. Savel about dental care for children with autism).

“The video makes it quite obvious that people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can effectively be treated by dentists who are caring, attentive and patient,” added Dr. Holstein.

About Autism
Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 110 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The prevalence of autism increased 57 percent from 2002 to 2006. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.

About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is North America's largest autism science and advocacy organization. Since its inception in 2005, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $142.5 million to research through 2014 and developing innovative new resources for families. The organization is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. In addition to funding research, Autism Speaks also supports the Autism Treatment Network, Autism Genetic Resource Exchange and several other scientific and clinical programs. Notable awareness initiatives include the establishment of the annual United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2 and an award-winning “Learn the Signs” campaign with the Ad Council which has received over $210 million in donated media. Autism Speaks' family resources include the Autism Video Glossary, a 100 Day Kit for newly-diagnosed families, a School Community Tool Kit and a community grant program. Autism Speaks has played a critical role in securing federal legislation to advance the government's response to autism, and has successfully advocated for insurance reform to cover behavioral treatments. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 80 cities across North America. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.

About the Co-founders
Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Senior Advisor at Lee Equity Partners, Chairman and CEO of the Palm Beach Civic Association and served as vice chairman, General Electric, and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal for more than twenty years. He also serves on the boards of the Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation, RAND Corporation and the New York Presbyterian Hospital. Suzanne Wright has an extensive history of active involvement in community and philanthropic endeavors, mostly directed toward helping children. She serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations and is also Trustee Emeritus of Sarah Lawrence College, her alma mater. Suzanne has received numerous awards such as the CHILD Magazine Children's Champions Award, Luella Bennack Volunteer Award, Spirit of Achievement award by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's National Women's Division and the Weizmann Institute of Science. In 2008, the Wrights were named to the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world for their commitment to global autism advocacy.