Today was Oliver’s second trip to the dentist. He receives dental care from a center with doctors who specialize in autism. Our first trip, 6 months ago (you can read about how that went here), didn’t go as well as I had hoped. As a matter of fact, to quote myself, “Oliver’s 1st dentist appointment and, boy did it go as I had hoped it wouldn’t.” Don’t get me wrong, the staff was great, as were the parents; it was just that he was in a new place that he wasn’t able to freely roam around and explore. He was only few months into therapy at that point and, with that in mind while comparing these two trips, it was made even more blatantly obvious just how much progress he has made. The only tears that were shed were during the brief invasion of his mouth. To quote myself in my post regarding his first trip to the dentist, “he shrieked while running around in search of an exit; he wailed as he threw himself onto the floor. I tried to show him videos of himself on my phone, I tried to make a game out of running back and forth, and I tried singing his favorite songs with him; however, nothing helped. When he gets into sensory overload mode, it can be impossible to pull him out of it without removing him from the new environment.” This time was different for both of us. He went into the building in his stroller and a hat to, in a way, “hide” from all of the people and fluorescent lights. He also found comfort in watching videos of himself, which did not work for us last time around. He did wonderful and I couldn’t be happier! This center (visit their website here) is amazing and I would highly recommend it to anyone on the spectrum or who has a child on the spectrum. And…… NO CAVITIES! Hooray for healthy eating and incessant tooth brushing.
Before I jump into the appointment details, I want to mention how amazing The Center for Pediatric Dentistry in Seattle is. They offer an “autism clinic” every Monday, where a dentist who specializes in autism spectrum disorder sees all the kids on the spectrum to address their dental needs. This is such an important program because there aren’t enough businesses, much less medical professionals, who specialize in autism. Every doctor that specializes in autism that I have contacted doesn’t accept insurance and charges $450+ an hour. As a young, single, low-income mom, that just isn’t possible. The thought of taking Oliver to the dentist was something I had been dreading and putting off for a while, but upon my discovery of this center, I felt eager and excited to pursue an appointment. While I felt less scared than I would have before heading into a “normal” dentist, I still feared the stress that I could still be facing as I would head into those doors. So, with that in mind, Monday was Oliver’s 1st dentist appointment and, boy did it go as I had hoped it wouldn’t. Five days prior, I had my impacted wisom teeth removed and had been laying low up until that point. We arrived 20 minutes early and they brought him back roughly 10 minutes past his scheduled start time. He was in an unfamiliar environment, with loads of other children near him, and all he could do was scream. He shrieked while running around in search of an exit; he wailed as he threw himself onto the floor. I tried to show him videos of himself on my phone, I tried to make a game out of running back and forth, and I tried singing his favorite songs with him; however, nothing helped. When he gets into sensory overload mode, it can be impossible to pull him out of it without removing him from the new environment. Back to my post-wisdom teeth state, I hadn’t eaten many solid foods, not to mention my having become quite attached to my couch, so chasing a screaming toddler through a waiting room of other children on the spectrum, having equally hard times, wore me out. After we were called back, they let us pick a movie on Netflix for their overhead T.V. and as I held him, belly-to-belly, I laid his head down on the dentist’s knees and he brushed and checked out his teeth. Now, for the only good part of this outing… *drumroll* NO CAVITIES! Because of Oliver’s sensory issues, brushing his teeth is always a battle, so I was extremely nervous for cavities and what would come after. So, all in all, while this was a stressful day, it was necessary. I encourage everyone in Washington to look into getting their children’s’ dental care from this center; it is so refreshing to not get dirty looks from other parents and staff members while your child is having a meltdown.
Here is a link to the center’s website: https://thecenterforpediatricdentistry.com