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National Museum of Dentistry offers autism guide for parents

Baltimore, Md.—“There are many ways to help your child develop the skills he or she needs to take care of his or her mouth,” says the National Museum of Dentistry’s “Healthy Smiles for Autism” guide for parents of children with autism spectrum disorder posted online Sept. 16 as free and downloadable at healthysmilesforautism.

“Use this guide to start an oral health routine at home. In time, your child will learn how to independently complete each step in the routine.”

The National Museum of Dentistry, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, partnered with Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Center for Autism and Related Disorders and the University of Maryland Dental School to develop the best practices guide to oral health care for children with autism spectrum disorder.

“We want to be able to give parents readily usable tools to help their children to develop a good oral hygiene regimen,” said NMD Executive Director Jonathan Landers. “We’ve combined best practices for autism education, such as visual sequencing cards and rewards systems, with proven personal oral hygiene techniques to help make the process a little easier.”

The Healthy Smiles for Autism guide is made possible by the support of Henry Schein Cares, the Global Social Responsibility program of Henry Schein, Inc., Blakeslee Advertising and a generous gift from Dr. Irwin and Lucia Smigel, the museum announcement said.

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others, including the dentist. Dental care is the leading unmet health care need among children with special needs, and across all income levels children with special needs are almost twice as likely to have an unmet oral health care need as their peers without special needs, according to the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center.

The guide includes links to online autism and parent resources. Free copies are available at the NMD website or by calling 410-706-9599.