Going to the dentist can be a scary experience for kids. And for kids with autism whose needs aren’t met, a trip to the dentist can be a nightmare. While going to the dentist may never be a walk in the park, there are strategic moves that parents of children with autism can make to make sure that their child is properly cared for and comfortable. Here are a few tips you can follow to get ready for a trip to the dentist.
Choose the Right Dentist
The first step to a successful dentist visit is to choose the right dentist. A dentist without experience caring for children with special needs may not know what your child needs to feel safe and comfortable. Finding a dentist who specializes in working with children with special needs is a great way to help your child form a good relationship with their dentist.
If you live in an area that does not have a dentist who is trained to work with children with special needs, then do your best to talk to the dentist and staff ahead of time about your child’s needs and what they can do to meet them and have a successful visit.
It may be a good idea to familiarize your child with the idea of going to the dentist before the actual appointment. Get a few dental tools for your child to look at and touch. Knowing that the tools will not hurt them will help your child to go into the appointment with the right expectations. If your child wants, you can play dentist at home before the appointment. Playing pretend dentist is a great way to get your child ready for the big day.
To help your child feel safer, you can show them pictures of the outside and inside of the doctor’s office. You can even show them a picture of their dentist if you can find one. You can either look on your dentist’s website for photos or pay a visit early to take photos ahead of time. You can also use the pictures to tell a story about a visit to the dentist. Knowing exactly what to expect at the dentist’s office is a great way to help children with autism feel safe and in control.
Comfort at the dentist’s office is key. If your child has a favorite blanket, toy, or fidget, you may want to bring it along. Or, consider bringing a few things from your child’s coping skills toolbox.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in the fields of pediatric speech, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (202) 561-1110 (Washington, D.C. office) or (301) 577-4333 (Lanham office). Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.