For many parents, a trip to the dentist is fraught with apprehension and worry. Just the word, dentist, can conjure up sounds of drills and possibility of pain. It is the fear of the unknown, and the way children will handle such an experience, that may prevent a parent from making an appointment. The fact is oral hygiene is extremely important to a child's total health. Scheduling a cleaning every 6 months is a necessary ritual for a young child. It will teach the importance of maintaining dental care throughout the child's life.
Caring for a special needs child with autism or other disability can put the dentist on the back burner for many reasons. Some, may have oral motor difficulties or texture sensitivities. Others, have sensory integration problems where bright lights and noises could push the child into sensory overload causing tantrums or behavior outbursts. Luckily, parents no longer have to postpone dental treatment or endure the cries of their child. Kids First Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, located in Fairfield, Connecticut is dedicated to the needs of this unique community. By connecting parents who have a special needs child with Amy Paundlay, the special needs liaison for the group, a sense of relief and hope is immediately felt. Ms. Paundlay offers understanding and, most of all, solutions to creating a positive dental experience for the entire family.
The initial phone conversation is a "get to know you" call. For the autistic patients, Paundlay will send you a package of necessities to prepare your child for their visit. This may include a social story with visual supports, an electric toothbrush tip, hygienist mask, and some fun stickers or items to excite your child. It can be hard to know a balance between just enough and too much preparation, but Paundlay will guide you through every step. Along with the goody package, Paundlay will include the necessary forms the office needs to have completed. During the visit, this allows a parent to attend to their child and not to the formalities of paperwork.
Kids First strives to work with your child's schedule, when he/she is at their best. Many times, mornings or early afternoons will allow for the most positive experiences. Later in the day or after school may not be the best choice for a special needs child because exhaustion could lead to a breakdown in emotions. Paundlay understands the flexibility needed in working with you. She will schedule a room that is secluded to help with any sensory issues.
During the visit, rest assured, the staff will do what is needed so your child leaves happy. The waiting room is cheery and welcoming. The moment you open the doors, your child is supplied with video gaming systems to play with and television screens to watch. Motivators, such as tokens, are handed out liberally to your child as positive reinforcers for listening, opening wide, or completing other requests. Movies, videos or cartoon channels can be viewed on a television screen bolted over top each of the examining chairs. Sunglasses, in the color of choice, are handed out to eliminate sensitive eyes from the glare of the bright light. Puzzles (a favorite of children on the spectrum) are available to play with during any wait time. Paundlay dedicates herself to the family during the entire visit and goes above and beyond by continuing her relationship with each parent through follow-up phone calls and informative correspondence. It is truly a family experience. The staff is well prepared and will stop at any point your child feels overwhelmed or anxiety stricken. Each dentist assesses the needs of your child and approaches the solutions based on your input and Paundlay's advice. The ultimate goal for the entire staff at Kids First is to create a positive experience to build upon with each visit.
If you are an occupational therapist or other teaching professional, Kids First Dentistry will give you supplies to encourage, teach, and prepare students for a visit to the dentist. Please contact Amy below.
Kids First Pediatric Dentistry is located at 1478 Post Road in Fairfield, Connecticut. Their office hours are: Monday, Thursday, Friday, 8am-5pm, Tuesday, Wednesday, 8am-7pm. If you are interested in contacting Amy Paundlay, at Kids First, call 203-255-6851. Their website is: http://www.kidsfirstdentistry.com.