On Halloween (October 31st) weekend, Autism Awareness Walks took place from San Francisco to New York and everywhere in between. Michelle Parris, a walker in Washington, D.C. came out to the Washington Mall ready to walk 2.5 miles for her son Miles. “I just want other people to not have to deal with the same difficulties that my son has dealt with,” she said. “If there’s a way that we can end it that would be great.” The annual Autism Awareness Walk is to raise funds and awareness to help fight autism, a disorder of neural development that hampers certain skills associated with social interaction and communication. Idiosyncratic use of language is also consistent. People suffering from autism also often suffer from restricted and repetitive behavior. The condition begins to show itself in children as young as two years old. Because much of the condition is still fairly mysterious, raising awareness and funds to fight autism is vital.
Often times, children suffering from autism are very difficult to treat by a physician – especially in dentistry. Autistic children often have a very hard time trusting physicians (especially if he or she is unfamiliar with said physician). In regards to dentistry, autistic children can have difficulty sitting still. This can make orthodontic treatment very difficult, especially if the child does not like braces or feels they are causing him or her pain. An autistic child can be treated just as successfully as any child if he or she is treated with patience and care.
Regarding dental home care, brushing and flossing will require a family member’s daily help and guidance. Nutritional needs for Autistic children are extremely important, not just for dental hygiene, but for the brain. There are researches showing how certain foods seem to affect the developing brain of certain children, causing autistic behavior. This is not because of allergies, but because many of these children are unable to properly break down certain proteins. Researchers in England, Norway, and at the University of Florida had previously found peptides (a breakdown product of proteins) with opiate activity in the urine of a high percentage of autistic children. Opiates are drugs, like morphine, which affect brain function. These findings have recently been confirmed by researchers at Johnson & Johnson’s Ortho Clinical Diagnostics. Gluten-free diets (a protein fraction found in wheat, rye, barley and most oat products) and Casein-free diets (a protein in dairy) are suggested. A professional nutrition consultation is really a must.
I was luckily blessed to have the opportunity to treat some special people who needed special care. Of course, every patient is special in my dictionary, but when dealing with someone who cannot communicate (or resists treatment), the challenge is greater to make that person better. You can also feel the love in between the family members – the special person actually plays the “glue” role to get the family together! When you see them together, it is such a beautiful scene.
Treating Autistic or any other special people can be an extremely rewarding experience. Everything is possible if we determine how to make things better; with patience, love and knowledge, we can experience miracles!