EPISODE 35: AUTISM-FRIENDLY DENTISTRY
With special guest Dr. Wendy Humphrey Van Meter
Hey, everyone! Thanks for joining me today. We’ll be speaking with Dr. Wendy Humphrey. She specializes in providing dental care for children and adolescents, and works with many special-needs kids (and parents) in the most amazing, and comforting way… not to mention that she’s incredibly sweet as a person. If you’re enjoying our podcast, please rate and review us wherever you listen to podcasts, and share with a friend. That’s how we make our voice stronger. Thanks for listening!
A trip to the dentist is sometimes not the very favorite thing to do for a lot of children, and even adults, but to an autistic child it can be traumatic. Not only can the visit itself cause distress because it’s not part of the normal routine, but there are strangers putting hands in the mouth, strange sounds, tastes, bright lights, and maybe even a little pain. It’s not always fun, but there are things that you can do to make the whole experience as painless as possible.
Not all dentists are comfortable with children on the autism spectrum, and even some pediatric dentists. There are questions you can ask when deciding if a dentist if the right choice for your family. Today’s guest, Dr. Wendy, in full disclosure, is my son’s dentist. She’s been amazing to work with, and I’m now happy to report that her office is no longer on Alex’s “bad list of places to go.” (laugh) Let’s welcome Dr. Wendy.
Parents and caregivers need to be aware that not all dentists have the experience or comfort-level when working with patients on the autism spectrum, and that’s ok. Just make sure to ask the questions that will provide you with information so you can make the best decision. Some of these questions may include: Do you work with special needs kids? Are parents allowed to stay with their children? How do you handle a child’s anxiety? What do you do if you encounter problem behavior during the visit? Finding the right dentist that can connect with your child will help is creating a positive dental experience. Just because you have had problem visits to the dentist, doesn’t mean that this will always be the case. Just keep working at it! Thanks for joining me today and for being a part of My Autism Tribe. I’ll see you next week!
TIPS TO MAKE A POSITIVE DENTIST EXPERIENCE:
Create a social story on going to the dentist with pictures.
What toothpaste does your child prefer? If this makes the experience better, bring your own toothpaste to the visit and ask the hygienist to use.
Perhaps buy some really basic dental instruments for home that you child can handle before the visit. Practice on stuffed animals or use them on yourself.
Bring any items that may comfort: iPad, sunglasses, earplugs, lap weight, toy
Ask the dentist if you can come by once a week for a “friendly” visit. This will give the child a chance to become more familiar with the environment