Communication Application for Use During the First Dental Visit for Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Pediatr Dent. 2018 Jan 1;40(1):18-22.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to develop and evaluate an application (app) facilitating patient-professional communication among individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and compare it with the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS).

Methods: Forty nine- to 15-year-olds were randomly divided into two groups: G1 (app; <small>N</small> equals 20) and G2 (PECS; <small>N</small> equals 20). Initially, the visual contact timing of the groups was measured. Pictures of a room, ground, chair, dentist, mouth, low-speed handpiece, and air-water syringe were presented to both groups. Each picture was shown up to three times per appointment to evaluate whether or not the child accepted the procedure. After dental prophylaxis, caries experience was recorded.

Results: The prevalence of dental caries was 37.5 percent. Differences in the number of attempts required for each picture to acquire the skill proposed were found between the groups (Mann-Whitney, P<0.05). A significant difference in the median number of attempts (G1 equals 9.5 and G2 equals 15) and appointments (G1 equals three and G2 equals five) was observed (Mann-Whitney, P<0.05).

Conclusions: The app was more effective than the Picture Exchange Communication System for dentist-patient communication, decreasing the number of appointments required for preventive dental care and clinical examinations.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Appointments and Schedules
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder*
  • Child
  • Communication Aids for Disabled*
  • Dental Care for Children / methods*
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control
  • Dentist-Patient Relations*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Software*