Going to the dentist for many people can be challenging, but if you have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), it can be extremely difficult.
Bellarine Community Health is piloting a program that provides a personalised dental service for people with Autism.
The project, the first of its kind in Victoria, is already producing great outcomes.
Three-year-old Ethan Pavlovic has ASD and recently used the personalised dental program.
Mum Samantha says Ethan normally doesn’t cope well with anything medical, but because of the communication and supports put in place before they visited the BCH Dental Clinic, the outcome was fabulous.
“Before the appointment the dental team went through everything with us that could make it easier for Ethan. We agreed on a plan that would work for him like having his favourite TV show on the iPad, toys if he needed them and not reclining the chair back.”
The family were sent a pack containing the sorts of things used at the dentist like gloves and facemask, along with a social story and visual schedule with pictures that Ethan could follow.
The week prior to his appointment, Ethan played with the things in his pack and got familiar with the social story and schedule.
“As soon as we walked in, we showed Ethan the schedule and said this is where you are up to, so now it’s time to sit in the chair and he was happy to do it,” says Samantha. “It all just flowed, and the Dentist and team were so patient.”
Samantha was so thrilled with how positive the experience was for Ethan that she is making an appointment for her other son, who also has ASD.
The personalised dental program is not only for children, anyone with a diagnosis of ASD from across Geelong and the Bellarine can access the program.
Bellarine Community Health Project Lead and qualified Speech Pathologist, Nicki Goodwin says BCH is committed to providing care for everyone in our diverse community.
“Dental care and good oral health are important to our overall health and wellbeing but going to the dentist can be very challenging for people on the spectrum.”
“This project is responding to a real need to improve access to dental services for those people diagnosed with ASD.”
The ASD pilot project is running from Bellarine Community Health’s Dental Clinic at Point Lonsdale in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services.
To make an appointment, call 5258 0828 or if you would like to join the BCH online community forum for more information about the service, go to the Communities page on this website and create an account through the sign in button.
Once you have an account, log back into the BCH website and you can join the ASD Dental Project community on the Communities page.
3 year old Ethan Pavlovic and dad Matt.