Trips to the dentist prove particularly difficult for children with autism, as the bright lights, loud sounds, and touching inside the mouth can provide too much sensory input. As such, their oral health often suffers.
To alleviate these stressors, researchers set up dental cleanings in a quiet, darkened environment with soothing music and slow-moving visual effects. To keep the children secured in their chairs, practitioners eschewed traditional means and instead used a seat cover that looked like “a giant butterfly whose wings wrapped around the child and provided a comforting, deep-pressure hug.”
The study was performed in unique collaboration between occupational therapists and paediatric dentists, and its results were published on May 1 in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.