Factors influencing the inclusion of oral health education in individualized education plans of children with autism spectrum disorders in Singapore.
Prevention of oral diseases in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is possible via incorporation of oral health education (OHE) into individualized education plans.OBJECTIVES
To assess (i) whether training can improve teachers' oral heath knowledge, (ii) whether OHE is taught to children with ASD, and (iii) factors associated with teachers' perceived barriers to the implementation of OHE.DESIGN
Teachers working in special schools were recruited. Two pre-tested questionnaires were administered, before and after a training session. The effectiveness of the intervention was evaluated. Teachers were also surveyed on their teaching of caries prevention and perceived barriers of teaching OHE.RESULTS
There was a significant increase in knowledge scores post-intervention (P < 0.001). Teachers were more likely to incorporate OHE into their teaching if trained by dental professionals (P = 0.022) and provided teaching materials (P = 0.001). Teachers' level of baseline OHE knowledge was a predictor and significantly negatively associated with levels of perceived overall and personal barriers (both P < 0.001).CONCLUSION
OHE is included in the curriculum of the schools surveyed, but this is very limited. The training programme increased teachers' oral health knowledge competence scores. Levels of knowledge, lack of training, and teaching materials are barriers to incorporating OHE in their teaching curriculum.