Taking an autistic child to the dentist can be quite a traumatic experience. An autistic person perceives totally differently a simple trip to the dentist.
A strange person is going to put his hands in their mouth, the entire environment is strange, there will be bright lights and interesting smells and sensations.
An autistic child needs to be properly prepared for such a dental visit, so here are a few tips that are going to make it easier for everybody involved:
Parents have to understand that not all the dentists accept working with children with special needs. A good choice would be to take your child to a pediatric dentist, but then again you should talk to the respective professional in prior to making an appointment.
There are many questions that need to be asked, such as whether the dentist will accept working with a child that has autism, or which are those steps that he takes in order to comfort a child struggling with elevated anxiety.
Moreover, you should ask if the dentist will allow you (the parent) to stay in with your child while the dental treatment is performed. Taking an autistic child to the dentist has to be a positive, non-traumatic experience.
There are a few dentists who might answer that they manage the child’s anxiety by strapping the child with the help of the papoose board. This measure is not the best approach to deal with the child’s anxiety.
It is mainly used only if there is an emergency that cannot be solved otherwise. Then again, treating a child by implementing this method, will only increase his anxiety when future dentist visits are needed.
The show & tell technique- there are many printable photographs available online which show how children are treated by the dentist. You as a parent can help your child fight off anxiety by telling him step by step what is going to happen at the dentist, by showing the pictures along, and by generally comforting the child.
Yet another good idea is to show your child a few instruments used by the dentist for the treatment. You can either buy or borrow these, or show him pictures with these instruments and make your child understand what each of these is used for.
For autistic children that cannot tolerate well louder noises or extremely bright lights, a good tip is to bring along a pair of sunglasses and earplugs that are going to be used during the treatment.