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Vision and Dental Care for Children with Special Needs

Most children probably squirm about the thought of going to any type of doctor. Us adults do too, from time to time.
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But our children with special needs might squirm a bit more given their special sensory, mental, emotional and physical needs. Aside from the child’s obvious stress, it can be stressful for a parent to watch their son or daughter be scared or uncomfortable. It is more reassuring when you know the health practitioner has considerable success and experience working with special needs children. It can make the appointment more relaxing for your child, yourself, and the practitioner. And you feel more certain that your child’s needs are understood and considered throughout the entire experience. Now, I always make a point to ask if a doctor has experience treating children with autism.

While it has become a bit easier over the years to locate pediatricians who have experience helping children with autism, it is still hard to find vision, dental, and hearing doctors who specialize or have experience in these areas. I located a few vision and dental offices in the Bay Area through AutismSpeaks and will list them here. By the way, if there are any vision, dental or hearing practitioners out there who haven’t connected with Autism Speaks to advertise their office, please consider doing so — then parents like me can find you.

The dental offices in the San Francisco area I found through AutismSpeaks are Itani Dental (415-685-0011 or and Image Orthodontics (415-752-0654 or ). You can contact them to get more information on their services.

The vision offices mentioned in the SF Bay Area are Optometric Center for Family Vision (650-593-1661 or and Larkspur Landing Optometry ( You can specify if you want an appointment in the SF or the Larkspur office.

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To find an office in your specific area, you can go to and click on Resource Guide.

You can also find a Dental Tool Kit at the AutismSpeaks website under Family Services. This is a kit you can have sent to you which gives you and your child some assistance in preparing for a first dental visit.

Surprisingly, it was still difficult for me to find any hearing professionals that specifically mentioned serving children with autism.  Having our children’s hearing checked is so important since some of them may have Central Auditory Processing Disorder, a disorder where what is heard is sometimes delayed or distorted before it reaches the brain. This disorder can make it difficult for someone to sort out sounds (for example, they hear the teacher speaking to them but also clearly hear their classmate lightly tapping a pencil nearby or clearly hear a lawnmower running outside the window. It’s hard to pay attention to one sound or the other). Among other things, this disorder can also affect speech development.  I will continue to search for hearing professionals in the Bay Area who help children with autism, as well as other special needs. As soon as I find any, I will share the information with you.

“Health Word in Green” by Stuart Miles

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/


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