A Journey of Smiles: Championing Autistic Individuals in Dental Care
By Rebbeca, Dental Care Nurse and Mum
As a dental nurse, I find joy in championing oral health and wellbeing. But my passion runs deeper, fuelled by a personal connection. I am the proud mum of a beautiful autistic daughter. Our journey together has opened my eyes to the unique challenges that individuals like her may face during dental visits.
My daughter's first dental appointment was a whirlwind of bright lights, unfamiliar noises, and new faces. It was a struggle to find a dental practice that truly understood her needs. This inspired me to specialise in supporting autistic patients in my role as a dental nurse.
Finding the right dental care for my autistic daughter was no easy task. But every day, I strive to make my autistic patients and their families feel comfortable, understood, and truly supported.
I approach dentistry from the dual perspective of a healthcare professional and a mother. Simple gestures, like allowing patients to hold their favourite toy or tying up my hair to avoid tickling their face, can transform a potentially daunting visit into a pleasant experience.
In our dental practices, we employ visual aids and provide step-by-step explanations. This method of visual communication has been a game-changer for my daughter and many others.
I recognise the importance of consistency and routine for individuals with autism. Therefore, I make every effort to schedule appointments with the same dentist at the same time of day, fostering a sense of familiarity.
My daughter's journey through life, filled with determination and bravery, is a constant source of inspiration for me. She has taught me empathy, endless patience, and the true essence of unconditional love. These invaluable lessons have not only made me a better mum but also a more compassionate and understanding dental nurse.
Remember, you are not alone on this journey. Together, we can make the dental experience brighter and more inclusive for everyone.
Support Links (UK-based)
1. [Autism Inpatient Mental Health Service](https://www.autism.org.uk/what-we-do/help-and-support/autism-inpatient-mental-health-service)
2. [Education Tribunal Support Helpline](https://www.autism.org.uk/what-we-do/help-and-support/tribunal-support-line)
3. [Parent to Parent Emotional Support Helpline](https://www.autism.org.uk/what-we-do/help-and-support/parent-to-parent-emotional-support-helpline)