Monday, March 09, 2009

Baby Teeth

Today Chris had his first dental x-rays, his first novacaine shot, his first nitrous oxide, and his first two teeth pulled. Hopefully they'll be the last teeth he has to have pulled, but we won't know for a while. Last Thursday, while eating an apple, Chris called out, "Oh no! My tooth hurts! I have a cavity! I need to go to the dentist!"

When I looked in his mouth it was plain to see that he had more teeth in there than he should. His adult lower, central incisors were coming up- behind his baby teeth! Luckily we couldn't get in until this morning. We had 4 days to talk about what to expect at the dentist's office. Chris was excited to see the dentist! He really likes him- which is a very good thing.

My one criticism of the dentist's office is that this is the second time Chris has been seen within the past few months. Every time I call I remind the receptionist that Chris has Asperger's Syndrome. I put it on his paperwork during the first visit. Normally I do not immediately tell people he's on the autism spectrum. It feels wrong to tell people to expect him to act differently, and so I usually try to help him transition into new situations without alerting everyone surrounding us that he is "different." However, the dentist is one person who REALLY NEEDS TO KNOW! Chris needs more time to get used to new ideas. He needs more explanation of what is going to happen. He needs to get into the office and have things happen- not wait several days or weeks and then return.

I need to be present if new stuff (like x-rays) are being done. It's not just me being overprotective- you will not get a readable x-ray if I'm not there to keep him calm and tell him what to expect. The dental assistant telling him to hold as still as possible (in her cute, friendly voice) is not going to hold him. His mother saying, "The machine will move around your head, it will make a funny noise, and if you move the x-rays won't work," will hold him still. Once I took the dentist aside and asked if there was a note in his file regarding the Asperger's (there wasn't- even though I told the receptionist about it when I called this time too) they were better about letting me help. Are most parents really such a liability that the staff should keep them away?

It also bugs me that it has to be brought up when Chris is present. There should be some discreet way of discussing the issue before we arrive at the office (for instance- when I call and tell the receptionist he has Asperger's Syndrome). Chris should think he's normal, or at least as normal as any individual with his family can be. How will he ever feel as if he fits in if he mentally catagorizes himself as something disordered? Asperger's Syndrome is not who Chris is. It's an interesting fact about him- like he's blond. I hate having to bring it up- but there are times when the information really is relevant and helpful (like when you're about to pull his teeth).


Amy said...

I'm glad it went well. And yes I can see why you don't want Chris to grow up "categorizing himself as disordered", however I do think it's okay for him to grow up knowing that sometimes he can explain his "disorder" to help others understand and to help him make situations easier all around. Don't get me wrong, not as an excuse just as a familiar label, for lack of a better word. I don't know if this is making sense and if not I'll explain myself better on the phone.

Eryn at said...

Amy, that's a fantastic point. One I wouldn't have considered.

We have a young cousin (19 now) whose daughter who has a SEVERE latex allergy. One day when working with a patient, I thought of going to one of those business card companies and having a stack of business cards printed up that said:

"My name is _____ and I have a severe latex allergy. If we have worked together before, I just wanted to remind you!"

Then, on the back, I had her name, her mother's name, and her phone number printed. I made the front BRIGHT RED with white letters. I asked our cousin to give them to new doctors, and her dentist, and her day care providers, and ask them to put the bright red card in her charts.

Maybe you could make use of this idea? I'm writing an email to you right now about my son's speech disorder, but I think I have to zonk out! Will get back to you soon.

Jake camping in the living room

Jake camping in the living room