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Help at the dentist

Updated: May 20, 2021

One of the more difficult tasks with an autistic child can be going to the dentist. I wanted to share our experience and how we turned things around for Cara.

For a long time, Cara had no problem going to the dentist. She was cooperative with minimal screaming. Then she had a procedure to remove a tooth. It was performed at Children's Hospital under anesthesia. The next dental visit after that she wouldn't even let the dentist look in her mouth. It was an absolute nightmare.

So, I got together with a staff member from her school to develop a social story for Cara. The first thing I did was contact the dentist's office to get the order that the steps would proceed in. Then, on my older daughter's next dental appointment I took pictures of her at each of the steps. So then the staff member and I took the information and put it together into a social story with pictures of my older daughter and descriptions of the steps. Cara and her sister are very close so seeing her sister doing something often helps Cara be able to do it.

We also started Cara using an electric toothbrush so that the noise of the tools at the dentist might not bother her so much. It worked!

The next time I took Cara to the dentist, we took the social story with us. The dentist's office made sure to follow the order we had established in the social story so Cara could turn each page as each step was done. Cara performed beautifully. She had a few rough spots, but considering the last time she had been to the dentist she wouldn't let them look in her mouth. It was amazing.

I am attaching a copy of the social story that we used. I got the picture of her dentist for the first page from the dentist's website.

The last page where the reward of going to Toys R Us has been changed to show different rewards, like a sticker book, or going to a different store.

Download DOCX • 1.87MB

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