A specialist in oral health and disability, SOHDEV (Oral Health, Disability, Dependency and Vulnerability) has launched a programme for young people with autism. Their goal: to make it easier to visit the dentist and receive dental treatment. This programme is also available through an application which can be accessed from this article.
SOHDEV is an association which is an “expert in the field of oral health for people with special needs", particularly those with disabilities. The association covers a wide range of activities, including research and prevention. In autumn 2013, it launched a programme designed for people with autism: "For people with autism, dental treatment is particularly problematic", notes Pascale Paturle, the Foundation’s healthcare philanthropy manager. "The aim of this programme is prevention but also preparation for dentist visits and improving the management of daily oral hygiene." Aimed at families and professional carers, this programme is presented in the shape of a suitcase.
It features several different tools (icons, audio clips, a brushing schedule...) and aims to foster communication with children with autism. The aim is to be able to prepare for a visit to the dentist to avoid stressful or anxious situations once at the dentist’s office. "The results seen with children with autism have been positive. They are more willing to accept hygiene rules and they are less likely to refuse to go to the dentist", continues Pascale Paturle.
Digitising the programme
From the start, the aim was to extend the programme to digital devices. Naturally, a mobile application project has been launched. "When we launched the "Autism and digital technology" programme in 2012, it became clear that tablets are very practical and useful tools for people with autism. We therefore found it really important to monitor developments in digital technology and to adapt the tablet programme ", says Pascale Paturle. This is an especially interesting technological development as it follows the person until their visit to the dentist’s office.
The application maintains the concept of a suitcase and also allows printing of some materials to create visual aids. Available since summer 2015, an improved version is planned for the coming weeks with new functionalities.