Autism Spectrum Disorder: Patients’ Oral Health Behaviors and Barriers in Oral Care from Parents’ Perspectives
To assess the oral health behaviors of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and explore attitudes and barriers in providing oral care by their parents. A cross-sectional, mixed method study design, which comprised of quantitative and qualitative sections was conducted. The quantitative part assessed the oral health behavior through a parent-proxy report questionnaire whilst the qualitative part assessed parents’ overall perspective on maintenance of oral health in children with ASD through an in-depth interview using semi-structured questions. All children below the age of 16 who have been clinically diagnosed with ASD and registered at the Pediatric Dental Clinic were included. The sample consisted of twenty children with ASD. Most of the sample were male and between 5-8 years old. Majority had good oral health behaviors but some exhibited self-injurious behaviors that may affect oral health. Severe characteristics of ASD, co-morbid conditions and incompetent health professionals were reported as barriers in oral care by parents of these children. Despite having good oral health behaviors, several barriers and challenges were expressed by these parents with ASD when providing home oral care or bringing them for dental appointment. Continuous support for parents with ASD child by dental professionals is essential to help overcome the real challenges and barriers in providing oral care among these parents.
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