Faculty / Staff Resources Student Resources
University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
X/Twitter Facebook Instagram LinkedIn YouTube

Sensory Adapted Dental Environments to Enhance Oral Care for Children (SADE-2)

SIEFL Core ⟩ SADE Lab ⟩TEM Lab ⟩

Principal Investigator: Sharon Cermak EdD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Co-Investigator (Chan): Leah Stein Duker PhD, OTR/L; Grace Baranek PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA; John Sideris PhD; Cheryl Vigen PhD

Co-Investigator (External): José Polido DDS; Marian Williams PhD; Michael Dawson PhD; Joel Hay PhD

Pre-Doctoral Trainee: Dominique Como

May 2015 – Apr 2022

Total funding

The SADE-2 study is a randomized clinical trial of 184 ethnically diverse children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We are investigating the efficacy of a sensory adapted dental environment (SADE) compared to a regular dental environment (RDE) to decrease children’s physiological anxiety, distress behavior, perception of pain, and sensory discomfort during a dental cleaning. If successful, this intervention has the potential to revolutionize clinic-based dental care for the growing population of children with ASD. It is an innovative solution that will enable dentists to more readily perform standard clinic-based procedures for children with ASD.


Awarded through NIH’s Diversity in Research initiative, the 1U01 DE024978-01S1 supplement will provide a research immersion opportunity in the development of a career trajectory as a research scientist. Ms. Como will receive training and gain experience in research methods, interdisciplinary collaboration, grantsmanship, and dissemination through presentations and publications.

The 3U01 DE024978-04S2 supplement is for a study to examine the prevalence and patterns of sensory processing dysfunction in a population of children with Down syndrome and its relationship to oral care challenges, and to determine the feasibility of adapting the sensory adapted dental environment (SADE) protocol for children with Down syndrome.


Type Source Number Amount
Federal NIH / NIDCR (Supplement) 3U01 DE024978-04S2 $375,251
Federal NIH / NIDCR (Diversity Supplement) 1U01 DE024978-01S1 $161,077
Federal NIH / National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) 1U01 DE024978-01 $3,246,693