Findings published: APEx-D: Autism Parent Experiences of Dentistry

We are delighted to be able to report that the results of our research into the experiences of parents taking their children with autism for dental check-ups has been published in the International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry.

17 parents of children aged 4-13 with autism, or a working diagnosis of autism, shared their experiences of taking their children for a dental examination at a high street dentist. Their experiences showed the importance of dental team flexibility, parent confidence to advocate for their children's needs, continuity of services (understanding there is more to a visit than just the check-up itself) and clear referral pathways to specialist services. The study provides greater understanding of challenges specific to children with autism such as hyper-empathy, as well as challenges which can affect all families of children with neurodisability, such as perceived medical authority.  Overall the results of this study emphasise the value of clear communication; a collaborative partnership that works in the best interest of all.

This study was led by Nicole Thomas, a parent of a child with autism and a dental hygienist.  It was undertaken in collaboration with Peninsula Dental School, Plymouth University. The study was funded by the Oral & Dental Research Trust as a professional development learning opportunity for Nicole who, following this experience is now studying for a PhD at Plymouth University.

We thank all of the parents who took the time to share their experiences as part of this study and the members of our Family Faculty who advised each stage of this research. We also offer our congratulations to Nicole for her first piece of research and wish her well with her PhD studies.

You can read the full paper by clicking on the following link:

Or you can read a plain language summary of the results: Parent experiences of taking a child with autism for a dental check up.

Nicole has also produced this great video which summarises her research project:

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