Publication Date

Spring 2018

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Antony D. Norman (Director), Joseph Evans, Lynn Austin, and Christina Noel

Degree Program

Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


The increase in the prevalence of individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has increased dramatically over the last few decades, causing an increase in the exposure of dental professionals to patients with the disorder in a clinical setting.

The purpose of this study is to understand the influence of the licensed dental hygienists’ professional attitude towards treating a patient with ASD, and the level of accommodations provided to patients with ASD during a routine dental visit, based on the amount of knowledge provided about the disorder during an accredited dental hygiene program. Survey data were collected from 78 registered dental hygienists from the states of Kentucky and Tennessee. The results revealed that 58 (80.5%) treat patients with ASD within their dental practices, and 41.03% of these reported treating one patient per month. The researcher sought to investigate the influence of the amount of knowledge presented on ASD within an accredited dental hygiene program and the influence of the dental hygienists’ attitude towards treating patients with ASD post-graduation. Results of the study revealed no significant difference of the dental hygienists’ professional attitude toward treating a patient with autism spectrum disorder and the accommodations provided to patients with autism during a routine dental visit and the amount of education provided during their accredited dental hygiene program. Given the increased prevalence of ASD, it is vital to address the lack of access to care, and evaluate the amount of education received while attending an accredited dental hygiene program.


Dental Hygiene | Dentistry | Special Education and Teaching