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Treating Patients with Autism in a Dental Setting

Course Number: 402

Creating a Sensory Friendly Office

Simple steps can be taken before the appointment, no matter what time of day, to help decrease the amount of sensory stimuli in the dental office.

  • Turn the overhead music off.

  • Keep the sterilizers off during the appointment including the ultrasonic.

  • Keep the lights low. Individuals with ASD are particularly sensitive to fluorescent lights. Consider keeping overhead lights off and just using the chair light or personal light used with loupes.

  • Always offer sunglasses.

  • Noise cancelling headphones can keep a patient calm. Many individuals with autism use headphones; ask the family to bring them.

  • Turn down the ringers on the telephones.

  • Allow the patient to wait in a consultation room instead of the busy waiting room, if possible.

  • If computer screens are visible to the patient (in the operatory), do not allow screen savers with flashing lights or strange patterns to run. It can be overwhelming.

  • Consider turning water features off- like small fountains in the operatory or waiting room.

  • The first appointment of the day is convenient for many offices as they come in and do not turn on these items until the patient is gone rather than going through the office in the middle of the day trying to turn things off.