Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tears at the Dentist

Really, now. Who doesn’t love a trip to the dentist? Reclining in an oddly shaped chair, under a spotlight, under stress, with all sorts of pointy, shiny tools ready to do all kinds of things to us. As a kid, I remember being scared to death, but I always knew there would be a bowl of brightly colored lollipops to choose from at the end.

I guess that’s what you’d call ensuring repeat business.

But let’s face it. As a kid, I was pretty much scared of any and everything. (Pathetic, huh?)

Truth be told, until recently, our daughter has had positive experiences with the dentist. Then came the move, and, of course, changing every single professional in her life. Like most things, finding the right fits for her took time – and some switching around. This included the dentist.
Abstract Painting - Can you see the toothbrush?

No, I’m not going to get into why, who or how we switched. Besides, what doesn’t fit us, suits another perfectly, right? (And with a stack of supposedly waterproof cork awaiting me in the studio, that now has to be made waterproof, I’ll save the “what worked, what didn’t” for another time. That sheet I bought at the craft store has a proven penchant for soaking whatever’s underneath it. Ugh.)

But feel free to ask me. I’ve got plenty of words in my pocket and I’m not afraid to use them.

Recently, Kristina had her first visit with the new dentist, and we were both impressed – and relieved. After all, when you have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) in the family, trying new places doesn’t come easily. Throughout the cleaning, someone came and updated me on how she was doing. At one point, she mentioned to me that she had been tearing up during part of the procedure. But when they asked her if it hurt, she said it did bother her, but seemed to indicate that is was more than that. Then the hygienist asked if it was the sound the tools were making, and she said it was.

They voluntarily - and proactively - switched tools. Really. And my daughter was able to relax and complete the process much less stressed. And let’s face it, when she’s calmer, those working with her are able to be more productive, too.

And she didn’t “feel like a problem” to them. She felt respected and understood.

Later that evening, my daughter remarked that she found it amazing that instead of telling her to, quote, “Suck it up and deal with it, like they would have told me at other dentist”, they were sensitive to her sensitivities – and chose another option. The end result was the same: clean, healthy teeth.

Or was it?

Had she been with the previous dentist, the tears would have continued. Not due to discomfort, or the noise that no longer would be bothering her. But due to the fact that another group of people charged with her care did not take her sensory concerns seriously. Knowing that there ARE people who choose to and do know what it’s like to have sensory struggles, I can’t help but wonder if she ever has the desire to face those who’ve made her life more difficult by making clear to them who she is, then telling them…

“Deal with it.”

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