Can researchers enhance the dental experience for children with autism?

Awakening Autism

Record-setting grant will help USC division study sensory stimuli that lessen a child’s anxiety during oral care.

JUNE 15, 2015

Kaleidoscopic lighting effects are projected onto the ceiling of a dental office. (Photo/John Hobbs)
Kaleidoscopic lighting effects are projected onto the ceiling of a dental office. (Photo/John Hobbs)

A five-year, $3.1 million National Institutes of Health research grant has been awarded to further study an intervention that adapts sensory stimuli inside a dental office to decrease children’s anxiety and negative responses during oral care. This is the largest-single research grant awarded in the history of the USC Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy.

Professor Sharon Cermak will be the principal investigator of the Sensory Adapted Dental Environments to Enhance Oral Care for Children, or “SADE-2” study, funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). SADE-2 is a continuation of Cermak’s research that has been funded by an NIDCR planning grant since 2011.

The…

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