6 Tips to Prepare Your Child with Autism for a Trip to the Dentist
Preparing for a dental visit can entail some strategic planning for parents of kids with autism. Although it may never be a trip that is smooth sailing for children with autism or any special needs, it can be better with the right amount of planning. Below are some tips to use to make sure you are able to make the visit as comfortable as possible for your child with Autism.
1 | Find the Right Dentist
Make sure your child’s dentist has experience with special needs. Not every person is able to manage the extra needs that a child with autism has. However, with the right dentist and staff who are experienced with special needs, it can make a world of difference for your child.
If you live in a rural area where there is not a dentist that is trained in special needs, do your best as your child’s parent and advocate to educate the dental team to prepare them for your child and the visit ahead of time.
2 | Play Dentist at Home
Before you even introduce your child to a dentist, get your child some dental instruments so that they can view and hold the instruments. It can be very beneficial for your child to hold the instruments so that they know that the tools will not hurt them. If your child will participate, practice a pretend dental exam at home. Have your child lay down while they open their mouth wide.
3 | Take Photos Beforehand
Plan ahead and go to the dentist to take pictures of the outside of the building and on the inside. This is very important if it is your child’s first visit. If at all possible, take a picture of the child’s dentist. The more the child sees the pictures and become familiar with the environment, the better it will be.
4 | Create a Social Story
A personalized social story with pictures from the actual dental office would be very helpful. The short description of what to expect is a great way to communicate with the kids on the spectrum who may need visual support.
5 | Get Comfortable
Bring along whatever your child requires for comfort. If they have a favorite blanket, animal, fidget toy, or whatever they like, bring the item along and allow the child to have it at all times.
6 | Take Breaks
Take frequent breaks. If your child requires breaks 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.
With some children, it doesn’t matter what we do ahead of time to prepare them for the visit, it may still go bad due to the severity of their special needs and anxiety. I know from experience with one of my boys, that it didn’t matter what I did to prepare them, it always went bad. However, my other child did great after all of our prep work. As a parent all we can do is prepare ahead of time and wish for the best.
Do YOU have any tips that weren’t listed here?
Please leave your feedback in the comments below!
Related Articles: A Special Needs Guide to Dental Hygiene
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