Stories at the Dentist

Details of a current research project relating to dental healthcare is  being carried out by the University of Dundee AAC Research Group. The “Stories at the Dentist” project isn’t specifically about autism but would seem to be relevant. Dental treatment for people on the autistic spectrum can be problematic due to the high degree of communication needed between the dentist and the patient e.g. seeking consent from patients during consultations. For those with sensory issues touch/sounds/taste/sight lights etc.  involved in treatment can be overwhelming and distressing.

“The main objective is to create an effective and efficient means of generating personalised social stories for individual patients within the dental context. This study aims to develop a computer based communication system to support people with intellectual disabilities to understand dental procedures with the aim of reducing anxiety for both patients and clinicians, and to enable patients to be more involved in the decision making process.”

Visit the Stories at the Dentist project website for full details of this research and to see the prototype of an app used to support the work of this project. They are experimenting with social stories to explain processes involved in treatment and e.g. pictures of dental practice staff to introduce the environment.

Commuting Under Pressure

Navigating the sensory landscapes of work based travel

“…David (who has a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome) retraces his journey from Southampton to Leeds (via London) in order to illustrate the use of mobile technology to assist with travel…”

David makes a very good job of illustrating the kind of sensory overload issues that can be a risk for those using public transport. Clear signage in public areas can be helpful. He makes good use of a smartphone to

  • Check travel schedules and see whether there are any unscheduled changes to timetables.
  • Play music and use over-the-ear headphones with his device to block out the sound of the underground and construction work at a train station and other loud or unwanted noise.
  • Navigation – uses mapping facilities and the GPS of the phone to find out where he is and which direction he’s facing.

He says he’s found using this kind of technology good for reducing the stress associated with travel and helping avert potential panic attacks.