Mr. Sucky and friends
And so we drove through Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and finally arrived in Florida. What do we do on our first full day here? No, not the beach. Not a theme park. Our first full day in Florida, and we go to the dentist.
We went to the dentist here last summer when we were on home leave, and it was a great experience. I still have bad memories of going to the dentists as a child, so I wanted it to be different for my kids. Of course, I am talking about time BD (before diagnosis). Now that I’m familiar with the sensory issues and amazing memory that are components of Pudding’s variety of autism, I’m even more determined that her early experiences go well. Last summer, she came out of the appointment with an A+ on her dental report card, a Dora toothbrush, and best of all, a smile on her face.
I’ve asked pediatricians, teachers, and mothers all around where we live for a good dentist recommendation, but nobody ever had a suggestion for us. My friend Alysia wrote a post about her great experience, and I knew I had to make a return visit to the dentist part of our trip. I called the office up, and explained about Pudding’s diagnosis, and her brother’s sensitivities, and asked if they could still help us. The receptionist said the magic words:
“We serve all kids of children here, and we’re very familiar with sensory issues.”
Oh yes, they’re worth driving through four states for an appointment.
I’d found a social story about going to the dentist, and we’d practised at home. Pudding was a little nervous, but she really enjoyed helping the assistant. She particularly liked placing Mr. Sucky in her mouth. Her teeth are in great shape, and we made it through another visit with no tears- success!
Her brother wasn’t quite as enthralled with the whole experience, but we got some great tips from the dentist about how to approach cleaning the teeth of a toddler who is so sensitive. He was fine once he was given a new car.
I can’t control every experience for my kids. I know some will be good, some will be bad, and that is part of life. They’re going to have to learn to cope without my protection. But I can reduce their anxiety where I’m able to. When I find people who understand, who make kindness and patience the bedrock of their professionalism, I’m going to hang on to them. I’m perfectly willing to travel through the US for such a positive experience, and I dare say if I can’t find another such gem wherever we move to next, we’ll be flying back to Florida again.
Don’t worry though, dentist visits aren’t going to be the highlight of this trip!