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Autism Treatment Network Announces New Tool Kit for Dental Professionals

February 21, 2012

Are you having a hard time finding a dentist who understands your child’s special health care needs?

Autism Speaks’ Autism Treatment Network (ATN) recognizes the need for dental professionals to have the most up-to-date information about autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and how to facilitate a successful office visit for children with autism. We are pleased to roll out a new tool kit to help dentists, dental hygienists and their office staff better serve the needs of this growing patient population.

Treating Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Tool Kit for Dental Professionals provides dental professionals with information and tips for…

√  Understanding symptoms and behaviors common to ASD;

√  Identifying dental problems for which ASD patients may be at higher risk;
√  Recognizing emotions and behaviors common to patients with ASD;

√ Addressing concerns parents may have about dental products such as filling amalgams and fluoride;

√ Developing strategies for maximizing the success of the child’s dental visit, from checking in with the receptionist to following directions in the dentist’s chair.

The tool kit was developed by ATN dentists and therapists who observed that dentists, despite being well-versed in strategies for treating children, often feel unprepared for interacting with patients with the special sensitivities and medical issues often associated with autism.

The tool kit serves as a companion to the Dental Guide, developed by Autism Speaks Family Services Community Connections. The Dental Guide provides families and dental professionals with important information and tips for helping children with autism maintain good oral health habits at home and for making visits to the dentist less stressful.

“By bringing the Dental Tool Kit to the attention of their family dentist, families can help dental professionals stay up to date on autism spectrum disorders and help make visiting the dentist a positive experience for their child,” says ATN Medical Director Dan Coury, M.D. Families may also find its information helpful in managing situations inside the dentist office and beyond, he adds. “The recommendations in this tool kit are for behavioral issues that can appear in a variety of situations, including going to the doctor, visiting other unfamiliar settings or simply trying to follow a certain time schedule,” he says.

The new tool kit for dental professionals is the latest in a series of tools Autism Speaks ATN is developing to help parents and medical professionals manage issues common to children and teens with ASDs. Previous releases include “Should My Child Take Medicine for Challenging Behavior?” and “Take the Work Out of Blood Work.” More will follow throughout the year. Look for them on the ATN’s “Tools You Can Use” page at the Autism Speaks website.

This tool kit is the product of on-going activities of Autism Speaks’ Autism Treatment Network (ATN) through its federal funding as the Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health (AIR-P). Both of these Autism-Speaks funded programs receive additional support through by cooperative agreement UA3 MC 11054 through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Research Program to the Massachusetts General Hospital.