I know that everyone out there who has children handpick anyone they take their children to. Like doctors and dentists and such. When you have a child who resides within the autism spectrum, this becomes an even bigger deal.
I have been known to tell a doctor to leave my son's hospital room and not to come back. I have fired a dentist for calling my son stupid to his face and I have gotten into a shouting match with an orthodontist.
The Boy sees a pediatrician who is very understanding and treats him with respect. He has yet to lose his patience with him, although you can see on his face that he is close!
His eye doctor was specially chosen because he has a child also on the autism spectrum. I kind of figured that if he deals with this on a daily basis in the home, then he is the one to work with The Boy for his eye exams.
His newest dentist and I had a long talk via phone before I took him in for his first visit. I explained that visits with him would be long and tiring for us all. He told me that it would be no problem and that he had worked with autistic kids before. We had one incident there, but a quick call after the appointment to speak with the dentist has cleared it all up.
The orthodontist is a special thing. This orthodontist is the same one that I went to as a kid. And, he has an autistic son. That gave him two brownie points!
When I first started taking The Boy there, it was August of 2003. After one visit in which we had to do dental impressions, there was a big blow up.
If you have ever had impressions done before, you know that you have to put this big cumbersome tray filled with squishy icky tasting gunk in your mouth and hold it until it sets. Of course to get what they need it has to be pushed to the very back of your throat. It gags you and you can't swallow, so you are drooling all over yourself. Granted, all of it only takes about 20 seconds, but it is still a major ordeal. Or at least it is with my son!
What happened is this: When we started going to the orthodontist, we started with a retainer to try to keep him out of braces. Once they realized that he had teeth growing in funky places, braces were the next step. They wanted to get another set of impressions at that point.
The problem started when they decided that he was big enough to not need me with him when this was done. They told me that it would go best if I just waited in the waiting room.
After much yelling (which could be heard throughout this big office!) they came to get me. I went back, calmed him down and we started again. The girl that was doing this wasn't the nicest person and you could tell she had never had to deal with anything like this before. It was in his records that you have to explain everything that is going to happen. She didn't.
Finally at some point, the girl who had done the previous impressions came over and together, we got it done.
Once that was completed, we were walking through where the doc was working on another patient with family at her side. He stopped us and asked what the problem was. He asked if The Boy had been traumatized at the dentist office in the past. He said that he had never seen a child my sons age/size act like that and that it was uncalled for.
Without raising my voice, I said:
"You, of all people, should know what the problem is. You were handpicked for several reasons, one of which is because you also have an autistic son. My son has autism and you should know what this is like. You should understand that someone is coming at him without explanation. That some stranger is touching him without his permission. That they are putting something in his mouth that has an awful taste and texture to him. They are forcing all of this on him without his mom being around. And now the doctor himself is asking what the problem is. You, of all people, should know what the problem is. And if you can't quickly figure it out, I will take my son and leave this office and figure out in the process how to make sure the community knows that despite having his own autistic child, this man has no idea how to deal with them."
This man quickly dropped his head and apologized. He not only apologized to me and The Boy, but he also apologized to all who were within range of hearing our conversation. He agreed that I was in the right and he was in the wrong. He said that he had been having a rough day and took it out on the two of us. He also said that we would assign one specific person to The Boy to take care of him.
From that point on, we have had no problems at all. We got lucky and were assigned Shannon. She has been wonderful! The Boy will not allow anyone else to touch him. A few visits ago, another girl came out to get him, but he didn't want to go....until she told him that Shannon was busy and had asked if she would just go get him to bring him back. But, Shannon would be the one working with him.
When he got the braces put on, we were told that they hoped that it would only take about 2 years. We have had to go to an oral surgeon for a bracket to be placed on a tooth that was growing in the middle of the roof of his mouth. This bracket had a chain attached to it that they have been "reeling in" to get it into the correct position.
On his last visit, the orthodontist made the mistake of saying that we may have to split his gum so that the tooth will come through. He said that it was right there, but may need to be shown the light.
This terrified The Boy. I didn't really realize how much until we were on our way to his appointment yesterday. Normally, going to see Shannon is no big deal. Yesterday, he was sad and quiet. He told me he didn't want his gum to be cut. We talked about our options (braces forever, or cut gum if need be) and he decided that he wanted neither of those!
Once his wire was out, he went to brush his teeth and I told Shannon what the problem was. She went over to speak with the doc and give him a heads up. When the doc came over, he apologized for making The Boy worry and said that the tooth seemed to be just about to break through! He said that the gum covering the tooth was paper thin now and there should be no problem. There was only one link of chain showing and it was easy to slide the tie wire through it. The wire this doc uses is that stretchy type of wire that some folks use to string beads and make bracelets and such with. The Boy and I call it 'spaghetti wire' because it is seems so flimsy.
That is when it happened. As the doc was tying the chain to the wire with the spaghetti wire, it broke. He was pulling it really tight and the spaghetti wire broke into two pieces. When that happened, it also pulled the chain and (I can only assume) the tooth down. Now instead of only one full link showing, there was one and a half showing. And, it cut his gum.
The Boy didn't realize that the whole incident had cut his gum and caused it to bleed some. Let me tell you though....when he figured it out, he told the doc that it hurt and that he was not very happy with him! Luckily there was no crying or yelling, and we made it out of there a few minutes later.
On December 29th, we go back for his next appointment. We are keeping our fingers crossed that we make due to weather (ya never know!) and that this tooth that we have waited so very long on will finally make it's appearance.
In December 2007, braces were put on. In April 2008, the chain was attached to our little rogue tooth. We hope that all braces are off by this time next year. The Boy has already reminded us that the two years that he feels was promised to him was a lie. He may not truly understand the concept of time, but he can do math!