Autism Watch: 2007

Autism Goes to the Dentist

Posted on: October 14, 2008

For those of you who have autistic kids, you know Autism. You know how it goes with you wherever you are, usually even when your children aren’t with you. It’s an entity, with its own personality, requirements, and mood. Autism is sometimes hiding under the rug, other times it’s right there and can’t be slightly partially ignored, even by those who wish it’d climb back under the rug. Sometimes Autism is noisy, other times it’s quiet. (And the capital A in Autism isn’t a grammatical error — when referring to an entity, it needs to have a name, and we all know names are capitalized.)

Today, Autism went to the dentist. So did our son. Our son was there to have sealants put on two teeth; he’d had reflux very bad as a child, and it wore off some of the enamel on those back teeth. He’s already had four root canals, because Autism decided it didn’t like its teeth brushed and gagged every time we tried. Our son sat down in the chair, and I followed in to sit with him, with dad relegated to the waiting room due to space issues. (We use an office that specializes in special needs children, so it’s a small price to pay that we can’t both be in with ds.) The hygienist explained the process to him, how they’d clean those two teeth first, then do the sealants, but then she had to step out for a few minutes, and the waiting got to him. Big time. Before she returned, he’d thrown the stuffed puppy (used to cuddle or boost a little one up in the chair) and was starting to get out of the chair to make a run for it when she returned. On went the fancy glasses he requests so the bright light doesn’t hurt his eyes. Oops, wrong color, he wants the white ones. You know, the same ones as the last appointment. We weren’t two minutes into the cleaning when I had to swap with dh because ds started to squirm, whine, cry, and then yell. Dh came in, then there ensued an argument over putting vaseline on ds’s lips. He’s got a lip-licking stim that causes major clown rashes when it gets windy, cold, or just because. Meanwhile, I’d already gotten out two tight knots out of his hair from his hair twirling stim, which worsens with anxiety, and he was definitely anxious. Vaseline applied, and dh left the room. The cleaning was done, and then the dentist arrived to apply the sealants. She patiently showed him every piece of equipment she was going to use, and explained that touching the gloves was a no-no, and that his job was to leave his hands laying on his tummy. That worked for about two minutes…and I am probably being really generous. It got worse before it got better, but after the dentist got the pillow that holds his jaw open (instead of him having to hold it open himself), he was good, as long as they suctioned out his mouth frequently. He forgot the movie playing on the ceiling or the cute bugs on the walls and the puppy that was back in his seat, but soon enough, it was over. I give kudos to the staff for their patience and willingness to work with him, and I hope they get paid well. They seem to appreciate his unique personality, which is a big deal in itself. And when the receptionist commented what a different child he looked to be from two years ago, ahhhh, what an affirmation. To us, he looks better, but we’re with him each day so getting an unbiased opinion from someone else is always a blessing.

So you can understand how Autism indeed went with us. It went home with us, but stayed in a separate room for a few minutes of homework time…even if that was when ds ran to the livingroom to do his homework on the floor because he couldn’t focus with anyone else breathing at an audible level. He knocked out his spelling work, and we headed to his favorite restaurant, Logan’s Roadhouse. (Shout-out to them for peanuts on the table, a great O.T. exercise, where ds can smash, squish and mash peanuts until they scream, then drop it all on the floor and start over again.) He and I enjoyed our ‘date’ night, and for the most part, Autism was quiet. That was probably because ds ordered steak tips, medium well, so ds had to work a bit to eat them, and that too is a sensory experience. A whole bowl of cinnamon apples and half a glass of root beer and we were good to go. To Target. The latest Indiana Jones movie was released today, and not only does ds really want to watch it, but it’ll give him something to do with older dd when we take younger dd to her choral performance tomorrow night. Oh, and I’m cheap, I like to buy the movies we want the week they come out because they’re on sale. He even let me shop for a few miscellaneous items (Halloween candy…18 pounds, to be exact..and that’s just a drop in the bucket..office supplies, a shirt) before he started bugging for an Icee that I had no way in heck intentions of getting. Moosetracks mint chip ice cream was waiting at home, already paid for, as healthy an ice cream as we can buy, and it wasn’t about to hype him out in my car or give him something to spill on the leather seats. (I know, I know, leather seats…but we bought the SUV a few weeks before A-day…autism diagnosis day. I’ll never forget getting lost in the midst of nowhere on the way to our new neurologist, having to call and get directions, explain why I’m late, deal with dh on the phone giving me no help whatsoever with directions because he was in denial and refusing to work with me or participate in the process, while having to perfect driving the Tank, a vehicle I’d laughed at for years because it’s a Road Barge, yet was suddenly necessary due to family size and the need to tow a trailer. Anyway, I digress….)

Autism’s getting ready for bed now. So is ds. We had our very one-sided conversation about Pokemon, while he was doing his required reading log minutes, and ds announced that he got the best fundraiser results out of his class. (Go us, go us…we worked so hard for that, he has no idea.) Not sure what time Autism will wake up tomorrow, but hopefully it’ll be in a good mood. It’s windy here, fires on the news but none nearby. Fires cause a regression that’s hard to explain, but even the wind can cause some explosions out of the blue, so it’s just one more reason I hate the wind.

And now it’s time to go give ds hugs before he falls asleep. Dentist appointment is over until March, when it starts all over again, hopefully minus any work beyond a cleaning and check-up. Phew.

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5 Responses to "Autism Goes to the Dentist"

I love that you separate your child and autism. I also like how you make it a capital A. It is so important for people to realize that a autism is not the whole child nor should a child be defined by it. Your child is special and unique and very much loved.

I never even thought of how challenging a trip to the dentist could be. I’ve never heard of a dentist for children with special needs. So awesome!!!

Thank you sooo much for commenting on my blog. I was so excited to see someone actually took the time to view it. I am adding your page to my list of blogs to view and I hope you don’t mind that I referenced you and your blog in my latest post.

Your words are inspiring and I think more people should read your blog =)

~Meg

Ugh. Little Man is way over-due for a dental check-up, but I’m terrified to go through it again with him. He does a lot of the same stuff as your boy, including the gagging, the refusal to open his mouth, etc. Ick.

It sounds like you handled it beautifully. I really should see if there’s a similar office in my area for Little Man.

Excellent site, keep up the good work

I’ve been searching for this exact information on this topic for a long time.

Thank you for writing about this topic. I’m trying to compile a list of writers that write about this sort of thing, email me.

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