Widening horizons through alternative and augmentative communication systems for managing children with special health care needs in a pediatric dental setup

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Purpose:This study compared and evaluated the efficacy of conventional low-tech and improvised high-tech alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) software in behavior management in the dental environment and oral hygiene activities performance of children with special health care needs as well as improving their communication skills with the dentist and caretakers.Methods:A total of 60 institutionalized children with special health care needs were divided into two groups of 30 each to be exposed to low-tech AAC and high-tech AAC systems (special smiles for special children material). Assessment of knowledge as well as behavior modification achieved before and after training was carried out on the basis of pretested proformas formatted through various peer reviewed articles.Results and Conclusion:Rapid and enhanced assimilation of knowledge was observed in group 2 exposed to high-tech AAC improvised software after intergroup comparison of total scores at baseline, first, second, third, sixth, and ninth month of training. Oral hygiene performance was compared using PHP (Patient Hygiene Performance) index and after training results revealed highly significant change in both groups. The subjects benefitted immensely from the programme as group 1 and group 2 children demonstrated good behavior after training compared to none at baseline. On the whole, this programme had a positive motivational impact.

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