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Open Access Listening to Parents: A Qualitative Look at the Dental and Oral Care Experiences of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

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Purpose: Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience various barriers to optimal dental and oral care. The purpose of this study was to conduct focus groups of parents of children with autism spectrum disorder and subsequent qualitative analysis of the interviews in order to better understand problems in dental and oral care encountered by children with ASD. Methods: Four focus groups, comprised of parents of children with ASD, ranging in age from three to 17 years old, were assembled. We took a semi-structured approach, facilitating discussion about home oral hygiene and professional dental care. Audiotapes were transcribed and independently coded by four investigators who then jointly identified themes. Results: There were three overarching, interrelated themes: (1) There is variability between children with ASD in how they tolerate dental and oral care and in what facilitates such care. (2) Parents want more extensive dental care for their children with ASD. (3) Each child's dental and oral care should be individualized based on parents' input about the unique characteristics and needs of their child. Conclusions: There is no “one size fits all” approach to dental and oral care for children with autism spectrum disorder. Parents are valuable partners in informing the unique dental and oral care needs of their child with ASD.

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Keywords: AUTISM; DENTAL CARE; ORAL HYGIENE

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Pediatrics, Division of General Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle, USA; Seattle Children's Hospital, Seattle, Wash., USA. [email protected] 2: Seattle Children's Autism Center, Seattle, Wash., USA 3: Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle, Wash., USA 4: Department of Pediatrics, Division of Emergency Medicine, University of Washington and Seattle Children's Hospital, Seattle, Wash., USA

Publication date: November 1, 2015

More about this publication?
  • Pediatric Dentistry is the official publication of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry and the College of Diplomates of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. It is published bi-monthly and is internationally recognized as the leading journal in the area of pediatric dentistry. The journal promotes the practice, education and research specifically related to the specialty of pediatric dentistry. This peer-reviewed journal features scientific articles, case reports and abstracts of current pediatric dental research.
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