A Trip To The Dentist
As we all know kids with PDA do not like to do anything that is perceived as a demand. A really worrying aspect of this for me is the long-term consequences that Mollie may suffer through her continual refusal to brush her teeth. I can cope with the matted dirty hair and the fact that having a bath happens about as often as a full eclipse. About a week ago on one of the rare occasions that Mollie complied with the demand of teeth brushing she was shocked to the core to realize that her gums were bleeding. Thank goodness this shock discovery did consequently lead to Mollie being slightly less resistant to brushing her teeth and she agreed to visit a dentist, something that I haven’t even contemplated for years. So I phoned my local community dentist who apparently will be able to give Mollie an appointment with a special needs dentist.
- So off we toddled on Friday, I was expecting a last-minute refusal but I was pleasantly surprised that we managed to get into the car without much of a do.
- When we arrived I filled in the form stating Mollie’s special needs complete with tips on how to handle her.
- The dentist admitted that he had never heard of PDA and so I began the difficult process of trying to explain such a complex condition that actually makes my child sound like a spoilt brat in thirty seconds flat.
- Yes, I did get ‘that look’ from the dentist leading me to believe that he probably thought I was potty and that Mollie just needed to live with him for a week and this problem would soon be sorted out.
- Mollie behaved impeccably and allowed him to examine her teeth and all was going swimmingly. There is no gum disease and the recent spurt in tooth brushing has done the desired job.
- Then he continued to try to inform her of why she should be brushing her teeth and not eating sugary food.
- Not a good idea, she put her hands over her ears and started talking to drown out his demands. He was oblivious as I tried to explain that she was avoiding him because he was making demands. He just continued talking at her telling her to listen to him.
- I wanted to tell him to just ‘shut up’ because I could see that she was struggling and I was becoming concerned that she was either going to blow or that I was going to have to absorb her stress as soon as we left.
- Then he started talking to me about Mollie’s teeth, she kept interrupting and wanting to control the conversation, as all PDA kids do which prompted him to say ‘will you please shut up just for a moment’
- God, I held my breath waiting for the outburst whilst wishing that this well-meaning but clueless about PDA dentist, he obviously hadn’t read my notes on how to phrase things, would be struck dumb.
- Mollie’s head went down, she was well and truly sneeped. I really wanted to protect her from his clumsy approach but I didn’t want to have yet another professional refuse to see me due to me telling them how to do their job.
- At this point she jumped of the chair and ran out of the room. Great I thought she’s going to the waiting room to calm down rather than have an outburst. I really don’t know how she managed to keep it in.
- Come back, come back she was beckoned we can’t just let you roam around. I am realizing by now that I must be looking like the most incompetent mother ever. She did come back and grabbed my hand to take me out of the room with her.
- I said a quick goodbye and we left. I waited for the backlash that I was surely now going to have to face but it never came. Instead she chose to tell me that she hated the dentist and wanted to shoot his f…ing head off. He was extremely bossy I agreed and I don’t blame you for being angry and I am very proud of how you coped I told her.
- When we arrived home she informed me that I would need to tread carefully today because she was very angry with the dentist and that she was struggling to keep it in. She was also disappointed that I hadn’t protected her.
- I apologized to Mollie and informed her that I had been a little bit taken aback by how bossy he had been and that we had both been caught out on the spot. I had been expecting a much softer approach from a special needs dentist and I had written clearly on the form to not phrase demands in a direct manner.
- The upshot of our discussion was that I shall make another appointment to see the dentist but I shall go without Mollie in order to fully explain her condition and the type of approach that is required in order to obtain the best result. He can then either agree or disagree to see us again but hopefully it will avoid another potential disaster occurring in the future.
- I shall also do this with any new appointments that Mollie has with Professionals that haven’t previously dealt with her, I don’t want either of us to get caught out like this again.
The big plus for me is the huge steps forward that Mollie is making in both her self-awareness and her ability to control her behaviour. A few years ago, maybe even only a year ago this could have resulted in a huge public meltdown involving the trashing of his room, attacking anyone near her and possible restraint. How far we have come in such tiny baby steps that you don’t even notice until you look back at where you were.
She managed to hold it all in under considerable pressure, her anxieties would have been building up from the moment she woke up and so I am amazed that she did not flip. Not only did she not flip but she did not then direct an outburst at me as a way of lashing out at him by proxy. The final wonder was that she was able to verbalize her feelings and was able to inform me when we arrived home that she would need gentle handling for the rest of the day. I really never imagined that progress on this scale would ever come and so I do hope that this gives some hope and confidence to any parents whose children are younger than Mollie and who are going through the very explosive / destructive stage. The worst years for us with regard to the explosive meltdowns that would last for hours were between the ages of 6 and 9.
We are also seeing progress in other areas too which I am putting down to the quiet and calm environment that we are currently able to offer Mollie. My previous posts have unfolded Mollie’s story during the last few months.
- The decision to home educate and to abandon repeated attempts to provide her with a suitable school. It finally dawned on me that, for Mollie, there is no such thing as a suitable school and that she is unable to cope with the environment outside of her home for anything other than a short spurt.
- The withdrawal following my attempts to home educate and her depressive state.
- The upside down sleep cycle that turned night into day.
- Her lack of self-esteem and desire to be normal.
- Our strategies and thinking regarding these issues and the methods that we used to try to address them.
- Her complete isolation from the world.
The current situation is vastly improved from where we were from even just a few short weeks ago.
- She appears much happier and she is actively seeking to engage with us more and more.
- With careful planning and choice of activities she is getting out and about a little bit more. This last week she has been to a pottery museum to make a pot, the dentist, the pictures and the MOSI museum in Manchester.
- Teeth brushing is currently daily although still requires careful prompts throughout the day at the right time.
- She has asked for two baths this week and allowed me to dry and straighten her hair. Her newly groomed appearance pleased her very much and she smiled at her reflection in the mirror.
Are these signs that she is starting to climb out of the bear pit where she has being wrestling with her PDA, lack of self-worth and feelings of hopelessness.
Is this the moment of a new awakening, one of self acceptance and increased self-worth. A time for Mollie to accept what she can’t do without feeling bad about herself and to embrace the things in life that she can do.
This blog is full of ups an downs but I really do feel that our little butterfly is finally emerging from her cocoon and is perhaps ready to embrace her new life, created for her in an environment that won’t crush her wings. Our little butterfly would be destroyed if I opened the window and allowed her to fly in the outside world but within our butterfly sanctuary she can be safe, happy and live a fulfilling life.