The dentist is a scary time for many children, but for a child with autism it can be much worse. It's important to prepare your child to help him understand what will happen and why the dentist needs to look at his teeth. Here are three tips on preparing your child for the visit to help keep him calm during it.
Help Understand the Visit
The hardest part for a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is not understanding why something needs to happen. This visit will be out of the routine, and there are a lot of sounds and sights that a child won't be used to.
Your child also may not understand the importance of healthy teeth and having regular checkups. Discuss what checkups prevent and how they will help him. Avoid scaring him about cavities, but instead discuss toothaches that can come with poor oral hygiene and how the gums can start to bleed in order to show the importance of healthy teeth.
Help Understand the Tools
The dentist visit is difficult for children with sound or light sensitivities. One part of the exam involves a bright light in your child's face, and it will be uncomfortable and scary. Then there is the sound of drilling and other tools being used.
It's worth trying to find a way to introduce the tools at home to help the child get used to them. You could use videos online, but you may also be able to mimic the setup in the office. Consider using a mirror and light while your child is sitting in a chair to help them get used to the situation. Do this while they are comfortable with it and don't agitate them, or you can make their hesitation for the visit worse.
Get the Dentist on Your Side
A professional who understands the needs of your child will be much more open and able to work with those needs than someone who is working out of the blue. Make sure your dentist and his team understands about ASD and will be willing to work with your child to make him comfortable. This may involve a longer session, giving your child time to settle and explore all the different tools and what they do. It could also involve an extra appointment earlier in the week to explore the room and get to know the dentist first.
Take your time to explain the whole situation. Helping your child to understand and prepare for this visit will limit meltdowns and the anger or frustration felt by your child.Share