Dear Ohio Autism Community,

As we navigate through February, I’m reminded of the importance of advocacy and support within our community while we honor Black History Month. Let’s also celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month and address the unique challenges that children with Autism face in maintaining oral health.

Children with Autism encounter specific issues related to their oral health. They may struggle with sensory inputs in brushing and flossing, leading to avoiding these necessary tasks. Additionally, behaviors like head banging and gum picking can harm their teeth and gums.

It is noted that children with Autism often show a preference for soft, sweet foods, which can contribute to tooth decay. Parents may inadvertently expose their children to sugary treats to reinforce good behavior, increasing the risk of dental issues.

Considering these challenges, children with Autism are at a heightened risk of developing various oral health problems, including tooth decay, gum disease, bruxism (teeth grinding, especially at night), traumatic dental injuries, and orthodontic issues.

Reflecting on my journey with my son, I understand the importance of addressing these challenges. Every step was a testament to perseverance and collaboration between families and healthcare providers, from arranging anesthesia-assisted cleanings to gradually acclimating him to dental care.

The Autism Society of Ohio remains committed to bridging this gap. We continue to advocate for increased Medicaid funding to enhance accessibility to quality dental care for all. Moreover, we’re actively educating dental practitioners about the unique needs of individuals with Autism, fostering understanding, and nurturing supportive environments.

Through our Information and Referral services, we strive to connect individuals with Autism to resources and professionals who understand their needs. Together, we can empower our community to navigate dental care with confidence and dignity.

As we progress, let’s remember the power of patience, understanding, and advocacy. By working together, we can create a world where dental care is accessible and accommodating for every individual, regardless of their neurodiversity.

Warm regards,

Kathi J. Machle, President

Autism Society of Ohio