Today all four kids had to make their biannual pilgrimage to see their pediatric dentist. Our dentist is absolutely wonderful. She has a team who dress in bright, fun scrubs. The kids get loads of stickers, new toothbrushes and toothpaste, little dentist mirrors in fun colors, and toys from the treasure chest. Our dentist explains things to the kids, and makes the visit as reassuring and fun as possible.
Having said that, visits to the dentist cause a lot of anxiety in our kids, and therefore a lot of symptoms of their diagnoses rear their heads. This has forced me to be a strong advocate for the kids and their special needs.
During one visit a couple years ago, Jonah (who was probably about 7 at the time) was having a lot of vocal tics. He was in the dentist’s chair, and a hygienist was cleaning his teeth. Jonah was ticking a lot, and it was worse because he was nervous. He made grunting and growling sounds as the hygienist worked on his mouth. To my horror, the hygienist started teasing Jonah about his noises, and not in a fond, fun sort of way. I sat across the room from Jonah’s chair, stunned into shock. It was one of the first times I had to figure out how to deal with the outside world in relation to my child’s disability. I knew I had to make a decision- whether or not to intervene. In the midst of my shock, I decided that it would cause Jonah more stress and embarrassment if I boldly, publicly, told the hygienist about Jonah’s Tourette Syndrome, than if I just carefully watched to make sure Jonah was ok and let the conversation blow over. As I assessed the situation as only a Mama Bear can, with every fiber of my being ready to pounce if I saw my little boy become upset, I could tell Jonah was not too bothered by the hygienist’s comments. Still, I sat at alert, guarding my boy as he got his teeth cleaned. …continue reading