Today I had to bring in my sensory child to the dentist. He had anxiety and had decided not to go. So here are a few things we put in place:
1. I called and called and called the dentist beforehand to let them know of my child’s needs. I explained how he will need to be warned of any noises, feelings, or light.
2. We got him something he’d been asking for, for the last few months: Mariokart by nintendo. We told him simply that he will not receive the game unless he goes to the dentist. Maybe you call this bribery but you do whatever you can when you have a child that has anxiety and sensory challenges.
3. We brought his noise cancellation headphones. These I highly recommend if you do not have some. They are great for children who don’t have sensory issues for ball games and concerts.
4. Ankle weights. For those parents that don’t have a child with these needs, this sounds a bit weird but it truly does help my son feel “grounded” when sitting. He usually requests me to bring them whenever he has to sit for very long.
5. Something I FORGOT to bring today but certainly would have been a help is something for my son to hold. He usually likes holding a smooth stone which helps tremendously with those nerves and anxiety.
6. Lastly, I wish I had brought his pair of sunglasses. Despite having a pair at the dentist he felt the light was “still too bright” for him, and he became a bit distressed by it.
The main issue he had trouble with was the seat “going down” and moving. If I had to do this over again for the first time I would have warned him about the seat moving but that he is safe. Because he has trouble understanding where he is in relation to other objects, it is very unnerving for him to be in a chair that he does not control the movement of. He was loud enough to let us all know that he was not liking it. Thankfully though, most of the other issues was taken care of. The dentist would put a tool on his hand first (like the vacuum and blower) to help him feel it first before putting it in his mouth. This was a huge support for him and he “allowed” the dentist to do what she needed to do. Good luck out there Sensory parents!!
P.S. extra bonus points if you can find a dentist that has a TV on the ceiling. This helped keep my son concentrating on something visual despite not liking other things going on around him.