Taking the “Bite” out of Dental Visits for Children with Autism
Dental visits are a pain for most of the kids. The word ‘dentist’ ticks them off like it is the most terrible thing in the world. But, for children with autism, these visits can be really distressing and difficult.
Knowing that children with autism are vulnerable to new people and surroundings, it is difficult for the parents to take them to the dentist.
What to do, then?
Don’t worry, we’ve got it covered. Here are some ways that can help you prepare your autistic child for dental visits.
How to Prepare Your Children with Autism for Dental Visits?
The smells, sights, and sounds of a clinic can be overwhelming for children with autism. These changes may make them react extremely. To avoid that and to make the experience as comfortable as possible for the children, we’ve scooped out some tips. Read along.
1. Introduce them to Dental Visits at A Young Age
Autistic children have their own speed and pace of getting accustomed to a routine. This helps them to ease and accept the things at their natural course.
Therefore, it is important for parents of an autistic child to make them visit the dental clinic at an early age. This will help them to understand and adapt to the environment of the clinic. Besides, the first visit won’t end up being a dental emergency.
2. Role Play as Dentist at Home
One of the best ways to prepare your autistic child for dental visits is to let them get familiar with the dentistry tools and equipment.
Before you even take them to the dentist, introduce dental visit as a game. Buy a toy set of dentistry tools and play dentist with them. It will be helpful for your child as they will know that the equipment will not hurt them.
Make your child participate equally. Practice an imaginary dental exam at home. Have your child lay down with their mouth wide open. Talk to them while doing so and also explain them the purpose of the game.
This practice is like a make-up session for children with autism.
3. Lay a Personalized Plot
Narrate a story about your dental visit. Tell them, when you were a kid, you had some problem in your teeth which unabled you from having your favorite food.
But, the doctor helped you to bug away that problem. And, now, you can eat whatever you want.
A touch of the personalized story coming from their parents usually has a great impact on their thinking process. As a result, they might understand that dental clinics are not so bad. And, also that, people get well soon after visiting the doctor.
4. Take Care of the Comfort
While visiting the clinic, take along a bunch of things that your child loves. It can be their favorite fidget toy, blanket, animal or even their color set.
Besides, you can also ask the support staff to draw shades if the lights seem too bright for the child. Other than this, confirm and make an appointment only when there are a few people so that your child doesn’t get overwhelmed.
5. Don’t Force It
If your child is hesitating to visit the dentist, do not force them. For a simple reason, it will create a feeling of hatred and anger in them against the place.
To make it a successful visit, take frequent breaks. Make sure the waiting period isn’t too long. If your child insists on coming in the next time, ask them the reason. Also, make them promise to come along when asked the next time.
This will create a sense of satisfaction and safety in the child. As a result, they might feel more comfortable during the next visit to the clinic.
6. Find the Right Dentist
Look for a doctor that has experience in treating children with special needs. Not every doctor can manage the extra attention or unusual behavior of an autistic child.
However, the experienced dentist and staff can make a lot of difference for your child. If you are unable to find such doctor, educate the present dental team about your child’s condition ahead of time.
7. Take Help of Visuals
When you make an appointment with the dental clinic, make your child recognize the place. Find images of the clinic on the web and let your child get familiar with them.
It will be an added advantage if you can find the picture of the doctor they will be dealing with. This will give them a sense of acquaintance to the place and people. Hence, it will automatically reduce the possibility of their freak-out.
Certainly, preparing an autistic child for an extensive clinic environment can be really tough. But, it is not impossible. You just have to remain calm and believe, it is possible, and gradually it can work without fail.