Thursday, December 16, 2010

I'm just the mother

This is going to sound like a big complaining post but that isn't the way I intend it. It's less of a complaint and more of an observation that can be generalized to, well, lots of interactions with professionals. You see, I take Oliver to a completely awesome pediatric dentist. Every parent I know who has a kid with autism takes their child to this dentist. The guy has a waiting list for his practice. But if you have a kid with autism? You go to the top of the list. Someone told me that the man is a Christian and that he sees his work as a service to God -- or something like that. I don't know about that but what I can tell you is that I'm sure God is most definitely pleased with this guy. Like I said: he's awesome from the clown printed surgical mask he wears right on up to the surfboards and fish hanging from the ceiling.

Anyway, I have on occasion (OK, every visit) had to remind him that standing just to the side and behind Oliver and reaching around his head is not such a good idea. I think it freaks the boy out that suddenly two disembodied gloved hands are trying to reach into his mouth. When you think of it, that IS a little freaky, right? So Mr. Awesome Dentist always graciously moves forward and tackles the job head on, which is much more tolerable for Oliver.

But now here is where I get to the observation part. Oliver hates to have his teeth brushed, although the two of us long ago reached a kind of détente and now I can do it with minimal complaint from the boy. However, Oliver readily -- easily -- lets me floss his teeth and lightly scrape them with the $10 set of dental instruments I bought at CVS (which I've been doing for years, mainly to make visits to the dentist easier all around). I might even say that he likes it as he will often bring me the dental floss or a scraper and ask me to clean his teeth.

I explained all this to the dentist. Multiple times. But he has his kind of routine about getting kids who are often traumatized by dental exams to feel comfortable and that proceeds incrementally towards a full cleaning. And that's OK. I get why he does it this way and I really respect his time and patience and dedication to care for kids like Oliver.


Today the teeth-brushing part went kind of rough, probably because it started with the whole disembodied hand thing. And when I suggested that he try cleaning with the instruments the idea was shot down. I distinctly got the feeling that he thought I was trying to rush Oliver too fast. Then, perhaps to make me feel better, he tried flossing Oliver's teeth. When he saw how relaxed and cooperative Oliver became, he remarked that most kids don't tolerate that at all. Next time, he said happily, I think he'll be ready for the instruments!

Now, maybe this sounds kind of picky and, you know, it probably is. But um. ... oh, never mind. I'm just the mother.


  1. Seriously though, us mothers really deserve more respect! Why is it so hard to understand that we truly do know our kids best and if we are suggesting something then listen and do it. Period!

  2. Anonymous2:16 PM

    mothers know nothing about dentristy or healthcare. jeeze. stick to cookie baking and butt wiping! leave the big stiff to the professionals!
    Ruby is 4.5 and we have yet to take her to a dentist. as a doctor myself, it makes me cringe and i feel horrible, but at least her teeth look healthy and she lets someone brush them regularly.
    shame me. i deserve it.

  3. Y'know, sadly, I've kind of gotten used to professionals having that attitude.

  4. Special child like Oliver get moody sometimes and you cannot make him do the things that you like. You are his mother so I know you understand him very much. counselling southampton