C'Ville Organizations Work to Make Dentist Appointments Less Stressful for People with Autism
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Virginia Institute of Autism, University of Virginia, and Children's Dentistry of Charlottesville are studying how to make trips to the dentist less stressful for people with autism and their families.
A routine trip to the dentist can be overwhelming for people of any age but for people with autism, the bright lights and loud noises of your typical dentist office can be downright scary.
"Things that we take for granted every day that can be very challenging for someone with autism,” said Dentist John Will, with Children's Dentistry of Charlottesville.
That's why Children's Dentistry of Charlottesville is teaming up with the Virginia Institute of Autism (VIA) and the University of Virginia (UVA) to take some of the stress out of those visits.
“At VIA, at their outpatient behavioral center they have staff that are trained to take those irregular things seem more normal so things just like brushing their teeth, they'll work with them over and over and over again to get them used to doing that,” said Will.
Staff members at VIA go through the motions with patients to prepare them for the real thing when they show up to Will's office.
"People with autism naturally have communications barriers and anxiety with things unfamiliar and things like that, and so you can imagine how doing normal tasks they are used to performing on their regular everyday basis can be very dramatic for them and very frightening,” said Will.
Will says he hopes that patients will get the skills they need to have regular dental visits and a lifetime of good oral health. "They're more cooperative, more tolerant more at ease through the repeated stimulation over at VIA and then also here through seeing me multiple times."
This research is part of a study wrapping up next year. Will hopes this information will help other offices in the area better prepare for patients with autism.