How can my child with autism get braces?
My son’s dentist had been telling us for three years that my son might need braces. He suggested we take him to see an orthodontist.
We finally went last fall. We asked around our autism community about orthodontists that work well with special needs kids. We got a recommendation and made a consultation appointment.
What happened at the consultation appointment?
The orthodontist looked at my son and explained to us that he felt Jason would require braces. He said that his teeth were off line and some were not in correctly. He thoroughly explained his ideas for the needs of my son. He also explained the cost.
He suggested we consider getting him braces.
What did we decide?
First, we discussed everything with our son. We told him why he was going to see an orthodontist. We said it was only an evaluation, but if we agreed with the advice, we may move forward on getting him braces. We explained braces and even gave him a family example, his cousin who he sees often.
So, braces weren’t completely unfamiliar to him.
We made sure to involve our son. It is his teeth after all.
Second, both my husband and I have had braces. My husband had them during childhood, but I got mine after I turned forty. The orthodontist explained how my son would have problems if this didn’t happen soon.
We decided to move forward with the braces.
What were our concerns?
Well, our son has autism. Would braces cause him oral distress of some kind? Would it bring a return of teeth grinding, an oral stim he had on and off when he was younger? Would he be able to handle the procedure? Could he adapt to having braces in his mouth for three years?
During the last two years, my son began to express his independence in many ways. One way was to want to go get his teeth cleaned without Mommy. He suggested I wait in the lobby, and I did.
Each time, he did great. He was cooperative and had no issues.
I had no problem letting him go back with a dentist or an orthodontist by himself. Especially if my not being there made him more comfortable.
How did he do with his braces?
Well, we all sat down with the orthodontist. He explained exactly what was going to happen. My son heard of all it and accepted all of it.
I took him to two pre-braces appointments, molds and x-rays. Both times, my son did great. He went in alone each time. He walked in with confidence and no fear. (Of course, he had to ask all of the technicians if they had any dogs—his current obsession is with dogs.)
Then, I took him for a quick visit to get separators put in.
The next week, he got the first phase of braces put in.
He went alone yet again, and did great.
The woman putting them in was very understanding of my fidgety son. She allowed him to stand for most of the procedure. I was amazed that she was that accommodating, but I was told that this orthodontist understood autistic individuals, and both did it turn out to be true.
The woman explained the brushing procedure to me and my son. That night, we followed the procedure. My son seemed to like the new routine.
And, he was accepting of it.
I remember two years being nervous about my son getting braces. Boy, I had no reason to be nervous. We talk to him, make sure he understands, make sure he’s comfortable with what he needs, and make sure we’re comfortable.
My son continues to surprise and impress me! What a fantastic person.
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