AIM: Children with autism might need more dental care than non-autistic, healthy children. The aims of this study were: (a) to describe the caries experience and treatment needs of autistic children aged 6-16 years in the United Arab Emirates; and (b) to provide baseline data at national and regional levels to enable comparisons and future planning of dental services for children with autism.METHODS: All children attending a day centre in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, for autism were selected for the study. Sixty-one autistic children aged 6-16 years (45 males and 16 females) were included in the study. Each patient received a complete oral and periodontal examination using codes and criteria as described by the World Health Organization.RESULTS: The overall mean for Decayed, Missing, and Filled Teeth/decayed, missing, and filled teeth was 2.4. Female autistic children had significantly higher mean Decayed, Missing, and Filled Teeth/decayed, missing, and filled teeth scores (4.4) than males (1.63). The percentage of decayed, missing, and filled teeth increased with increasing age. The restorative index and met need index for the autistic children aged 11-15 years were 0.02 and 0.10, respectively.CONCLUSION: Effective oral health promotion strategies need to be implemented to improve the oral health status of autistic children. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.