Autism Spectrum Disorder is characterized by marked difficulties in behavior, social interaction, communication, and sensory sensitivities. Trips to the pediatric dentist are more successful and pleasant for the autistic child when the parent helps them to prepare. We've prepared some ideas for you as parent or guardian to use with your autistic child.
Visit Prior To Your Appointment
Take some time to visit the dental office with your child, and let them to become familiar with the space, staff, and processes. Our Kids Smiles team will always make arrangements to do this, so just give us a call.
Role Play At Home
Another step you can take to prepare your child is with role playing at home. You can pretend to do a dental exam and practice having your child lay down with their mouth open wide. Getting access to some real or play dental tools can also be helpful as your child can hold and explore them.
Read Books And Watch Videos
There are a number of good children's books about visiting the dentist. Check with your local library and local bookstores for some options. There are also kid-friendly clips on YouTube and other sites that can be good to watch with your child. If you're feeling creative, you can also make up your own stories. Make sure the stories are ones that will put the listener at ease and build confidence.
Look at Photos
Take photos of the outside of the dentist's office, and take some photos during your visit of the staff, dental chair, and your child visiting. You can review these when you prepare for your real visit.
During your visit, your child may need frequent breaks. If your child requires some time off from all the movement, lights, and sounds from the dental office, then by all means, take a break. Do what needs to be done for your child.
Find the Right Dentist
All of our Kids Smiles dentists are very experienced with special needs and autistic children. If you plan to visit a different office, ask the staff about their experiences. If you feel that they are not as familiar with autistic children, tell them what they should expect when working with your child. The discussion will be helpful for all parties.
Make Your Child Comfortable
Bring along whatever your child requires for comfort. If they have a favorite blanket, animal, fidget toy, or other item, bring the item along and allow the child to have it in the waiting room and during the examination and visit.
You will also feel more confident when you prepare. You can't predict all results, but Dr. Sierra, Dr. Lynn, Dr. Dawoud, and Dr. Weil will make adjustments during your child's visit based on their comfort.