USING A VISUAL SCHEDULE
TO HELP PATIENTS WITH
AUTISM DURING A DENTAL
HYGIENE APPOINTMENT
Josalyn Sewell, RDH, OMT
josalyns...
Introduction
Josalyn Sewell is a
Registered Dental
Hygienist. She
specializes in treating
individuals with autism
spectrum...
What is a visual
schedule?
• Visual schedules are a series
of pictures used to depict steps
to a process.
• Individuals wi...
What should it
look like?
Visual schedules can be
vertical with the first step
on the top or can be
horizontal with the fi...
#1
This is a special chair
used in a dental office. It
can go up and down and
the back lays flat like a
bed so the dentist...
#2
When you go to the
dentist you get to be the
special patient that sits
in the chair.
#3
To protect your eyes
from the bright lights you
get to wear sunglasses.
To make sure that your
shirt does not get dirty...
#4
The hygienist or dentist
will have special items to
wear to protect you from
germs.
#5
She will wear:
Goggles
A mask
Gloves
It may look silly but
makes cleaning your
mouth much easier.
#6
This is a special camera.
It takes a picture of your
teeth. The picture is
black and white and
checks to see how
health...
#7
To the take the picture
you will wear a heavy
coat. This makes sure
the camera only takes a
picture of your tooth.
The ...
#8
It is time to lie down in
the chair. This makes it
easy to see inside your
mouth.
#9
These are special
instruments used to see
in your mouth.
#10
Open your mouth nice
and wide so that the
hygienist can use her
instruments to look at
and count your teeth.
#11
This is a special
toothbrush and
toothpaste used by the
hygienist.
#12
The hygienist will use
her special toothbrush
on every tooth. It spins
in a circle and vibrates, it
may tickle!
#13
These instruments are
used to rinse the
toothpaste off of your
teeth. There is a squirt
gun (on the far left) that
squ...
#14
This is called fluoride.
Fluoride is a special
vitamin that we paint on
your teeth with a paint
brush to protect it fr...
#15
The hygienist will dry
your teeth off with her
squirt gun and then paint
the vitamins on your
teeth. The vitamins will...
#16
YOU DID IT! You get to
pick a prize. Great job
being a good patient!
Additional tips
• It is ok to put several
reward cards in the
schedule especially when
first starting or after a task
that...
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Using a Visual Schedule for Patients with Autism during a Dental Hygiene Appointment

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Visual schedules are a series of pictures that demonstrate steps in a process. Visual schedules are used to teach skills like toothbrushing or getting dressed. They can be used to show a child what the schedule is during the day. Dental professionals use this method every day in practice, we just refer to it as the patient schedule rather than a visual schedule. I have found using a visual schedule especially helpful for my patients with autism. This presentation does not discuss autism or the research behind visual schedules. It was created in response to the need for dental professionals and parents to have access to a visual schedule and how to use it. Feel free to contact me for additional information.

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Using a Visual Schedule for Patients with Autism during a Dental Hygiene Appointment

  1. 1. USING A VISUAL SCHEDULE TO HELP PATIENTS WITH AUTISM DURING A DENTAL HYGIENE APPOINTMENT Josalyn Sewell, RDH, OMT josalynsewell@gmail.com autismaintforsissys.blogspot.com Facebook: Autism Ain’t for Sissys Twitter: @autismstrong
  2. 2. Introduction Josalyn Sewell is a Registered Dental Hygienist. She specializes in treating individuals with autism spectrum disorders in a dental setting. Her greatest instructor in all things autism is her 10 year old son, Ethan who has classic autism and is mostly non-verbal. Included in this presentation is the visual schedule Josalyn uses with her patients to help desensitize them before the appointment and guide them during the appointment.
  3. 3. What is a visual schedule? • Visual schedules are a series of pictures used to depict steps to a process. • Individuals with autism are highly visual. Using pictures helps decrease anxiety and increase understanding. • The pictures in this presentation can be printed and used. It may be beneficial to take pictures of your office and your equipment as it is less confusing. I recommend giving parents a copy of the visual schedule a couple of weeks ahead of time. Include descriptions of what to say for each picture. Have them practice several times a week (every day is best) before the appointment. Be sure the pictures are in the order you expect the appointment to go and be sure to label them for the parents. I laminate my copy of the pictures in the operatory so if they get wet they are not ruined.
  4. 4. What should it look like? Visual schedules can be vertical with the first step on the top or can be horizontal with the first step on the left. It is best to have all of the pictures up on a board like this attached with velcro; as each step is completed the picture is removed and put to the side. This allows the individual to the steps in a series and focus on what is happening now and what will happen next.
  5. 5. #1 This is a special chair used in a dental office. It can go up and down and the back lays flat like a bed so the dentist and hygienist can look inside your mouth.
  6. 6. #2 When you go to the dentist you get to be the special patient that sits in the chair.
  7. 7. #3 To protect your eyes from the bright lights you get to wear sunglasses. To make sure that your shirt does not get dirty with water or toothpaste you will wear a napkin.
  8. 8. #4 The hygienist or dentist will have special items to wear to protect you from germs.
  9. 9. #5 She will wear: Goggles A mask Gloves It may look silly but makes cleaning your mouth much easier.
  10. 10. #6 This is a special camera. It takes a picture of your teeth. The picture is black and white and checks to see how healthy the tooth is. The picture is called an x-ray.
  11. 11. #7 To the take the picture you will wear a heavy coat. This makes sure the camera only takes a picture of your tooth. The hygienist will also put a special holder in your mouth. It will sit by your tongue. It is very important to hold your tongue and your body very still while the picture is taken.
  12. 12. #8 It is time to lie down in the chair. This makes it easy to see inside your mouth.
  13. 13. #9 These are special instruments used to see in your mouth.
  14. 14. #10 Open your mouth nice and wide so that the hygienist can use her instruments to look at and count your teeth.
  15. 15. #11 This is a special toothbrush and toothpaste used by the hygienist.
  16. 16. #12 The hygienist will use her special toothbrush on every tooth. It spins in a circle and vibrates, it may tickle!
  17. 17. #13 These instruments are used to rinse the toothpaste off of your teeth. There is a squirt gun (on the far left) that squirts water onto your teeth and a vacuum (middle) that will suck the water out. If there is a lot of water she may use the big vacuum (pink). The vacuums will sound like this _______ (make a sloshing sound)
  18. 18. #14 This is called fluoride. Fluoride is a special vitamin that we paint on your teeth with a paint brush to protect it from sugar bugs.
  19. 19. #15 The hygienist will dry your teeth off with her squirt gun and then paint the vitamins on your teeth. The vitamins will stay on your teeth until you brush it off. It may feel funny to your tongue but it is important to keep it on as long as possible.
  20. 20. #16 YOU DID IT! You get to pick a prize. Great job being a good patient!
  21. 21. Additional tips • It is ok to put several reward cards in the schedule especially when first starting or after a task that is especially difficult for the child • Many individuals with autism may not be able to complete the entire appointment the first time. Be consistent and patient. • Take time to interview the family members before the appointment to get to know as much about the patient as possible. Be prepared. • Ask the parents to practice brushing the patient’s teeth while lying down several times a week before the appointment. It can be intimidating to lie flat and have someone look in your mouth if you have never experienced that before

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