Your family dentistry office may or may not have experience with autistic children. In many cases, the issue that dentists may have with helping autistic children cope with the experience is when they are much younger than the average age of patients. For example, when your child is under the age of 10, it may be more difficult than when they are older and have more coping skills in place from ABA and other therapies. If you have a younger child with autism that has an upcoming dental appointment, there are a few ways to prepare them before they reach the office.
Visual Cue Cards
Your child may already be used to visual cue cards and first and then skills taught in ABA and occupational therapy. The same therapies can be applied to coping and preparing for a dental appointment. This technique is especially true with younger children who may use visuals more often than other forms of communication. You can use a mixture of dental cue cards to tell a story as well as using first and then cards to show the progression of what will occur on the day of the appointment. This can give your child a better understanding of the procedure.
Often it is the sound and the lighting that makes autistic children in fear of the dentist. The sounds and lighting can also lead to meltdowns. These meltdowns can become worse with autistic children that have sensory processing disorders. One way to cope with this is something you probably use in your day to day coping techniques. The technique is to use distraction devices such as headphones and music or tablets and phones. Ideally, anything that would not get in the way of the dentist doing their jobs. You can ask your dentist if you are unsure what may not be allowed.
No parent wants to really think about sedation as an option for their child and the dentist. However, with autism, sedation may be the ideal option. This is especially true if the appointment is for major dental work such as fillings, extractions, or teeth cleaning. The reason teeth cleaning procedures could be an issue is due to the sensory overload it can give to your child. Keep in mind; sedation does not have to mean full sedation like you would see for major medical procedures. If this is something you are considering, consider a consultation to discuss sedation options if there are any available.
These are just a few ways to help your young child with autism prepare for a dentist office visit. If you are unsure of what methods may be used at the dental office, contact a dental office like Apollo Dental Center for information. They can tell you how they help autistic children cope with the visit and give you even more tips on preparing your child for the appointment.Share