Pediatric Dental Health
January 10, 2005
Dental Management Of Children with Autism
Autism was first described in 1943 by the American child psychologist, Leo Kanner. Autism is a type of neurodevelopmental disorder, and usually appears within the first three years of a child’s life. The hallmark of autism is the lack of communication skills. Affected children also have problems with language, behavior, and social skills.
Autism is a lifelong condition, and its cause is unknown. Environmental and genetic factors do contribute to the development of autism, but most children with autism have normal physical health.
WHAT IS AUTISM?
Autism is a neurological disorder that appears during the first three years of life. It is a pervasive developmental disorder defined behaviorally as a syndrome consisting of abnormal development of social skills, limitations in the use of interactive language, and sensorimotor defects. Autism specifically affects brain function in the areas responsible for the development of communication and social interaction skills.
Children with autism may appear normal, but the disorder may prevent them from functioning and communicating in socially appropriate ways. The incidence of autistic disorder is seven per 10,000 persons. It is more common in males than females (4:1 ratio).
The rates of caries and periodontal disease in autistic children is comparable to those in the general population.
CAUSES OF AUTISM
The exact cause of autism is unknown, although it may be linked to brain injury and genetics. There are many biologic causes, but none of them are unique to autism.
The causes of autism include: