Today, Jess had a six-month dental checkup. This time she was given a new doctor.
With my full support, the team wrapped her in Velcro bands. This has a calming effect, as well as, prevents her from flailing her arms, a knee jerk reaction, but with arms…
The dentist then placed a mouth prop in to prevent her from biting down. As he was inspecting each tooth, he started singing the ABC’s. Jess started to object and tried to move her head. He then began singing “the Wheels on the Bus”.*
Before he could finish the first verse, I said:
“Excuse me, but that song is not appropriate, Jess is a young adult”.
him: “uhhh….. what should I sing? what music does she like?”
me: “well, what music do you listen to?”
him: pause….. “oh”.
* I was so annoyed at that moment, I can’t remember the whole conversation verbatim, but this was the gist.
From there, I (nicely) went off telling him that you can’t define a person solely on their outward appearance and you should not assume what someone comprehends based on their diagnosis. Labels tend to share information with a broad stroke. To his credit, he had read about Angelman Syndrome before her appointment, but most likely he read the Wikipedia version. **
As I was “educating” the young doctor, I caught Jess’s eye and she proceeded to calm down. I hate talking about her in front of her, but this was one of those moments I couldn’t take it and he struck a nerve.
This was awkward. Jess couldn’t speak for herself, (remember she was wrapped in Velcro and did not have access to her Talker) so I had to be her voice. It’s not unusual to not be able to answer the dentist’s questions. Why do they always ask questions that require more than a yes or no when they are in your mouth?
Unfortunately, Jess has a cavity that needs attention so we will be returning next week. While scheduling the appointment, I made it with another doctor who Jess had seen before. I’m confident that the dentist she saw today would have given her proper care, but I think he needs to sit this one out.
The day before Jess asked to go to the ice cream shop. She does this often. I informed her that now she’s a young adult, it’s important for her to watch her figure and that she can’t have ice cream unless she works out. Jess responded by calling me opinionated. After today’s drama, she is probably happy that I am.
**It should also be noted that this primarily a pediatric dental office. Most of the patients are little ones, but they also support the special needs community. I would not hesitate to recommend them to another family.