If you are the parent of a child with autism, you know that going to medical and dental appointments can be a real challenge. Some of the characteristics of a person with autism, such as strict routines and repetitive behaviors, can make appointments more complex. That’s why it’s critical that you find a dentist on your True Care plan that understands the unique needs of your child and is happy to make the necessary accommodations. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, parents should look for these positive behaviors in their child’s dentist. Dentists should:
- Work closely with parents to determine the child’s individual needs and abilities;
- Communicate with the child on their level;
- Take time to explain each instrument and procedure beforehand to relieve any anxiety;
- Invite the child and parent to tour the office and get accustomed to the environment;
- Be flexible in where the child sits, or how he or she prefers to be positioned;
- Take care to remove external stimuli such as bright lights shining in the child’s face;
- Allow the child to bring a comfort item or hold their parent’s hand;
- Praise good behavior consistently throughout the appointment;
- Attempt to have the same hygienist and receptionist present at each appointment;
- Schedule appointments for the same time of day;
- Use a more secluded room that is away from major noises;
- Be patient and allow the child time to adjust to all the new sights, sounds and smells;
- Talk with parents about preventative treatments such as fluorides and sealants;
- Take diligent notes about the special needs and behaviors of your child, including environmental triggers.
As a parent, it is important that you find the best dentist possible for your child. Someone who understands your child’s needs will make a huge difference in her quality of life and comfort level during the appointment. If you want help finding the right dentist, contact an American Health Advantage representative at 800-747-6190.