Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Goldilocks Visits the Dentist

I took GL to the dentist yesterday. Today I'm recovering. Actually, the dental checkup itself wasn't as bad as I'd feared. Our dentist is the gentlest, kindest, most engaging man I’ve ever met. He reminds me of Mr. Rogers. Goldilocks absolutely loves him. When he knows he has an appointment, he says, “I get to visit Dr. N., my dentist? Hooray!” and runs to the car.

But it wasn’t always this way. At first, Dr. N. was not sure he could handle a patient with autism. He referred him to a “pediatric/special needs” dentist who he said would give him a sedative. He teaches at the state university dental school, but he didn’t feel comfortable prescribing a sedative, because he felt that was outside his area of expertise.

The “pediatric/special needs” dentist was horrible. She refused to give the sedative she had promised, and instead, put her knee on his chest and told Mama to hold his legs, all the while scolding him for being “naughty”. He was so terrified, she couldn’t even do a basic exam. Mama Bear promised Goldilocks he would never have to go see that mean lady again.

When we reported this to Dr. N., he was shocked, and said he would never refer anyone to her again. He also agreed to give Goldilocks a chance. He scheduled him for a slow time of day with his gentlest, most patient hygienist. At the end, he came in, introduced himself, shook hands, and sent GL home with a big bag of trinkets. With each visit, he did a little more of his usual exam, eventually working up to a cleaning, complete exam, and x-rays.

But Dr. N is retiring. For the last several months, he's been gradually turning his practice over to Dr. G. She's been seeing more and more of his patients, and he's been gradually reducing his hours. He's down to 1-2 days a week. And GL doesn't like change. So at the end of his last visit, we scheduled this visit on a day both dentists would be in. On the way to the dentist office, I told him that Dr. N had a friend, Dr G, who is also a dentist. She is very nice, and she works on my teeth. Would he like to meet her? He thought he would. Alerting him to upcoming changes is a delicate balance. His anxiety is increased by both too little notice and too much.

GL giggled during his cleaning. He said it tickled. But he held my left hand so tight, I had to switch to my right, because my wedding ring was cutting into my finger. Then he started moaning. The hygienist was worried, until we figured out that he was singing.  Occasionally he'd forget to keep his mouth open, so I'd say "Ahh" to remind him. So he started singing "Ahh-ah-ah-ah!" I said he sounded like Tarzan. He started beating on his chest. The hygienist laughed, and asked him if he liked swinging on vines. He laughed, and said he did.

After his cleaning, Dr. G came in to meet him. He wouldn't make eye contact, or even look in her direction, but he shook her hand and talked to her, which is a step. Then Dr. N came in and did the exam. He and GL joked about Tarzan. Dr. N keeps bird feeders outside his exam room windows. It gives patients something to look at, and helps them relax. GL looked at the birds and said, "Hey, birds! Here are some cookies!"  I explained that he was quoting Frog and Toad. Dr. N said, "That's one of my favorite books. My wife says I'm a little like Toad."

He shook our hands and left, and the hygienist came back to give GL a fluoride treatment. He handled it pretty well, despite being tired of having so many hands and tools in his mouth. At one point, he yelled, "Hey, birds!" Come get your fluoride treatment!"

All the way home, he kept asking if we could go to the library for DVDs. We did have to make one other stop first, but that boy cannot take yes for an answer! At the library, he followed his usual routine: As soon as he was in the door, he yelled, "Hey, librarian, do you have anything in for me?" Then he threw his returns on the counter and ran back to to the children's DVDs without waiting for an answer. Sigh. We're working on it. Really.

Last several visits, he's had a new problem. He grabs three or four DVDs and runs back to the circulation desk to see if he has anything in. If he does, he leaves me to check out, and goes back to grab a few more books or DVDs. If he doesn't, he yells at the librarian, and then runs back and grabs as many DVDs as he can carry. He'll keep running back and grabbing more if I don't stop him. It's not like he watches all the DVDs he checks out. Every day, he insists the discs he checked out the day before are old, (even if he hasn't watched them) and he needs new ones. Since we only live two blocks from the library, and walking to the library is the only way I can get him to exercise, we go every day it's open. Even though he checks out the same DVDs over and over, they are "new" each time, and he is satisfied for the rest of that day.

Even the most patient and understanding librarian, who doesn't mind scanning ten DVDs every day, even though she knows he doesn't watch them all, wants him to leave enough DVDs for others to check out. So I've been making him choose some, and put the rest back. This time, he started screaming at me. And the librarian. About how we were taking all his DVDs away. About how we would never let him go to the library, ever, ever again. We were done checking out, so I hustled him toward the door, while he screamed all the way. As we were going out, we met the head librarian coming in. She reminded GL to zip his coat, because it was cold outside. He yelled at her, too. Outside, he kept screaming at me. About how I took all his DVDs. (Never mind the two bags he was carrying.) About how I would never let him go back to the library. About how he needed to go back right now, and apologize to the librarians. He usually "apologizes" by screaming at people. Not today, Zurg! Once I got him across the highway, I walked away. He can cross the less busy intersections on his own. He chased me, but even chasing someone, he doesn't walk very fast. He continued screaming at the whole world, but it was easier to tolerate from ten yards away. I did watch for traffic when he crossed. There wasn't any. Once we got home, he asked me to put on a DVD, and eventually calmed down.

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Blogger Casdok said...

They keep us on our toes - dont they!

January 19, 2011 at 2:01 PM  
Blogger Arby said...

Yikes. The fact that you don't dive into a bottle of Scotch each night is always a source of wonder to me.

January 20, 2011 at 7:03 AM  
Blogger Marlis said...

Oh my, I am exhausted just reading about it. Arby is right, i'd have a date with Mr. Gallo every night...

January 20, 2011 at 4:48 PM  
Blogger Brownie said...

I'm exhausted. Yes, I agree - whiskey or valium.

I have a 9:00 meeting with the school on Monday on my over active boy. I can't wait.


January 27, 2011 at 7:20 PM  

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