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Helping Kids with Autism Have Healthy Smiles

Posted on April 7, 2016 in Children’s Oral Health


April_Autism and Oral HealthApril is National Autism Awareness Month, and here at Delta Dental of Illinois, we've been talking a lot lately about the challenges that people with autism face when it comes to oral care and how to overcome them.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects people differently, and there is no “typical” profile of autism. Some children with autism may not experience problems with dental check-ups, but for others, especially those who are sensitive to light, sound or touch, routine dental visits can be particularly challenging. Maintaining good oral health habits such as brushing and flossing can also be difficult as brushing may feel intrusive and uncomfortable to children with autism.

Thankfully, many organizations, both here in Illinois and nationally, are working to make dental visits and good oral health more achievable for people with autism. If you have a child, friend or family member with autism, take a look at the following tips and resources.

Tips

If your child has autism and is uncomfortable with dental visits, here are a few tips for making dental visits less stressful:

Dental resources for those with autism

There are many valuable digital resources to help kids with autism and their families address oral health care challenges. A few we recommend include:

Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation Supports Giant Steps' Work For People with Autism

Pictured left: Dan Dahlke and Joy Cooper, of Giant Steps, speak about Giant Steps at the grants reception luncheon at the Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation headquarters in January 2015. Photo courtesy of Mike Tercha Photography.

Pictured left: Dan Dahlke and Joy Cooper, of Giant Steps, speak about Giant Steps at the grants reception luncheon at the Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation headquarters in January 2015. Photo courtesy of Mike Tercha Photography.

At Delta Dental of Illinois, our interest in helping those with autism have better oral health experiences extends far beyond Autism Awareness Month. In fact, through the Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation's Community Grants Program, the Foundation has supported the Giant Steps program in Lisle, IL, an organization that focuses on providing excellent educational and therapeutic services for children, teens and adults living with ASD, as well as autism training and outreach services for the greater community.

Giant Steps offers training to dental professionals who work or want to work with individuals with autism, and also works directly with those with autism. As one part of the program, Giant Steps takes people with autism to visit dental offices before they need to go for appointments, giving them a chance to become comfortable with the people and the environment before they actually need to sit through a dental cleaning and exam.

To learn more about Giant Steps, and how the Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation community grant impacted the organization's work, read our blog post, 2014 Community Grant Spotlight: Giant Steps. Then, don't forget to dive deeper into the helpful autism tips and resources above!

Introducing good oral health begins in infancy. Watch our video to learn more about how you can best care for your child's oral health.