My daughter Ava, 4, is mildly autistic and has difficulty with new and different stimuli. Her first dental visit is coming up, and I thought bringing her favorite weighted “blankie” and her beloved stuffed panda might be a good idea. I’m just worried about keeping her calm throughout the procedure. I do have an odd question, though. She adores her twin sister Rachel and was asking if Rachel can come along and sit in the room while she gets her cleaning. The twins do everything together and have a very strong bond. I honestly feel it would really help her. Rachel is not on the spectrum as Ava is. She already had her cleaning last week (and did great!) but Ava had another appointment that day and couldn’t come in at the same time. Rachel has such a calming effect on Ava, so I thought it might be a good idea. I will sit in the room with them as well, instead of leaving the dentist with two four-year-old’s! Does this sound like something that might work?
Twins are a special delight to be sure–congratulations! These are great questions; let’s see what we can do to ensure a wonderful first-time visit for your angel. There are a couple of things to consider:
The First Pediatric Dental Visit is Meant to be Fun
Some pediatric dentists are fine with parents coming back with their children. Others, prefer to work with the child with just his or her assistant so they can build a rapport. In fact, some children are much better-behaved on their own than their parents might suspect. This is especially true if you as the parent have any deep-seated dental anxieties of your own. Though not intentional, these fears may inadvertently be transferred to your child; children are very intuitive.
That being said, this is a “first” visit, and that makes it a special type of fun. While yes, Ava is here to have her teeth cleaned and examined, she’s also here to get a first-time view of the dental office and we want that to be favorable. We all know first impressions count, and the goal is to have her leave the chair with a smile. If this includes you and her twin sister sitting in, then it shouldn’t be a problem. Just be sure to mention this to the hygienist before being called back to a chair, so she can prepare. Explaining your daughter’s special circumstances will help.
Following Visits May be Different
Once Ava has successfully completed her first visit, she will have hopefully formed a good opinion of the dental office and what it entails. If further visits are needed, such as for fillings if any decay is found, the assistant may ask you and Rachel to remain in the reception area.
You Know Your Autistic Child’s Tolerance Best
Autism and its effects can be a challenge for parents. In the practice, we often see patients on varying degrees of the spectrum, and what works for one may not work for another. Some may require prior medication, such as dental sedation. Some require shorter visits; some do fine without any of these. I’m glad you’ve had the foresight to suggest bringing her special blanket and stuffed toy. These things will certainly help. You know her best, and we don’t forget that.
Twins Are Wonderful
All children are gifts, yet twins are another thing altogether! I can recall having 5-year-old twin girls in the operatory once, very similar to your situation: one in the chair, the other watching from the corner. These two had formed their own rudimentary language, and I’ll never forget listening to them talk to one another in their unique chatter! It was an amazing experience.
This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentists Drs. Foreman and Thimmesch.