What to Know about Your Autistic Child's First Dental Visit
You adore your autistic child more than anything in the world, but you're not sure how your child will react to the dentist. There are some precautions to take when taking him or her to the dentist the first time. Here are some suggestions that may work for you and your child.
Your child having a schedule, even a visual one, has become an everyday thing for your household. Scheduling a dentist appointment early and putting it on the visual schedule for your child will help prepare for the change in routine that you and your child are going to be experiencing. This will better prepare your child for any changes that might need to be made. Making sure your child knows about the dentist appointment and what to expect will be very reassuring to your child.
If your child has an identifier like most autistic children, you might want to consider letting him take one along for the added security. Having an identifier will make it feel more like an everyday visit rather than one he has to be afraid of or insecure about. Making your child comfortable in this situation is your top priority and without the identifier, they could feel a bit lost and unsure of themselves and their surroundings. For instance, if your child has an identifier that is in toy form of a dinosaur; allow one dinosaur to accompany you to the dentist office and place it in the child's line of sight at all times.
Ask your dentist if he or she is able to handle an autistic patient. Let your dentist know of any special considerations for your child that the office should have in place in the exam room. This, too, will help your child enjoy the dentist visit a bit more than if those considerations are left to chance. You know what your child needs more than anyone else and that means knowing what he or she will sit still for.
Being that this will be a first-time dentist visit for your child, introduce your child to the dentist before the first appointment. Letting your child get to know the office and the doctor before the initial appointment will ensure that your child will recognize this as a safe place to be. Introductions between your child and your child's dentist are a key component to making sure the visit will go as smoothly as possible for everyone.
By keeping these ideas in mind, you are making the first dental visit easier on you and your child. Remember, not all dentists have experience with autistic children, so broach the subject with your dentist first before taking them into the appointment.