I think any autism parent out there will agree that a trip to the dentist can be more than a daunting experience for a child on the spectrum. And I think we all know why. Dentists offices are terrible autism environments. Nearly everyone of the most common bad sensory triggers (florescent strip lights, loud noises, bad smells, echoey spaces, strangers touching you) is present. No wonder kids shut down or melt down.
Luckily the experts are starting to notice. A recent pilot study looked at the effects of making some simple changes to the environment, such as replacing the lighting so that is softer and playing soothing music, and found them to be dramatic with kids experiencing less anxiety and fewer restraints being needed (yes they were often having to restrain the kids).
To read more about the study going to the following link:
Now if we could only get schools to start implementing these same simple changes. Here at Horse Boy that is exactly what we are trying to do and have already started working with schools in both the US and UK to help them make over their classrooms so that they are more autism friendly. Anyone out there who works at a school and is interested please please get in touch.
Yes they are. I know when I first started working with Rowan that taking him to the dentist was right up there on the list of top ten most stressful environments for him. He learned to cope, as he often does, my forming a relationship with a particular dentist who was kind and sympathetic towards him and his needs. A couple of years ago though she advised us that he needed some teeth removed and sent us to a different dentist as she wasn't equipped to do it. I remember I had to drive him to meet his Mom there and he was very very very upset to be going somewhere different. When we got there though we found it was a lovely place full of lovely objects, plants, nice smells and kind people. It ended up being a great experience and since then he has been much more flexible about going to different doctors, hairdressers etc. So I guess my point is I saw firsthand how the right (or at least better) environment can make a big difference.
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