The idea of getting braces can cause anxiety for anyone, but it can be especially traumatic for a child with autism. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make the process easier for everyone involved. Use these ideas to help your child cope with this experience.
Use Picture Communication
Prepare your child for the trip to the orthodontist by using pictures to show exactly what will happen the day the braces are put on. These pictures should cover everything from getting into the car to go to the orthodontist's office to what your child's teeth will look like once the procedure is complete. Talk about what happens at each step, and be sure to go over the pictures a few times in the days leading up to the appointment. You can create the pictures yourself, or you may be able to find a book at the library that explains the process. Talk to your child's special education teacher, as he or she may already have a picture communication series for this event.
Talk To The Orthodontist
The orthodontist should be your partner in preparing your child for braces. See if you can arrange a tour of the office and have the orthodontist describe what will happen during the next visit. Let your child become comfortable with the environment so it won't be quite so unnerving the day the braces are put on.
Consider Sedation Dentistry
Some children with autism have difficulty with being touched, which can make getting braces particularly stressful. Sedation dentistry can help your child by keeping him or her asleep while the braces are put on. If you choose this option, be very clear and communicative about what is going to happen, as you don't want your child to wake up to a full set of braces without understanding what they are or why they are there.
Prepare A Meal Plan
Getting braces requires a few changes in diet, and that can be disruptive for a child with autism. Plan meals ahead of time to ensure your child gets proper nutrition and foods that he or she considers enjoyable. You'll need to make special plans for the first few days after the braces are put on, as eating can be difficult. Talk to your orthodontist about what foods aren't permitted with braces, and try to come up with substitutes that will keep your child happy.
The idea of getting braces may be a bit scary for both you and your child. With proper planning and support from your family and your orthodontist, your child can get the dental services needed without added stress or anxiety.
To learn more, contact an orthodontist like Wright Center For Orthodontics.