Dental visits made easy for children with autism

Dr. Phoebe Tsang and her research team would like to extend a big thank you to all participants in her study, focused on helping children with autism cope with their dental visit, at BC Children’s Hospital (BCCH).  She was also very grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with BCCH psychologist, Dr. Janet Mah in the last few years.  Their hard work has been recently published in the Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry.

Here is the abstract of the study for those who are interested.  You can find the full article in with the following citation:   Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry Volume 40, Number 5/2016.

autism awareness

Visual Schedule System in Dental Care for Patients with Autism: A Pilot Study

Objectives:  A pilot study to test whether a visual schedule system using picture communication symbols can help children with autism have successful routine dental cleaning visits.

Study Design: 14 boys with autism between three- to eight-years-old presented to the dental clinic for four weekly consecutive dental appointments. Patients were randomly assigned to either the control group who received the tell-show-do method (i.e., standard of care), or the test group who received the tell-show-do method plus the visual schedule system.

Results: Patients in the test group completed an average of 1.38 more steps, at 35.52 seconds per step faster, and with 18.7% lower levels of behavioral distress than those in the control group.

Conclusion: The use of a visual schedule system, along with repeated weekly visits, showed some promise in helping children with autism successfully complete more steps, progress at a quicker rate, and exhibit lower levels of behavioral distress within a dental appointment, compared to a traditional tell-show-do approach.

Visual Schedule for dental visit