Thursday, October 9, 2014


I am so angry. I'm furious.
I'm fucking tired of the world not being ready for my kid (our kids, kids who don't fit the mold, young humans in general).
I'm yelling and ready to punch someone or more appropriately slap someone upside the head so that their teeth rattle.

Simon went to the dentist today. A dentist that was recommended to us by another family that has a kid with 'special needs'.  The dentist that has, in his Bio (on the Medi-cal dental directory- THAT IS MOSTLY FOR KIDS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS), that kids with special needs is one of his specialties.

Simon and have been talking about it off and on for a few days to help him be prepared but not stress him out. He's holding it together and as we approach the office is already talking about giving his new dentist a hug when he meets him.

The office is filled with waiting families and there is no where to sit so I take Simon just outside the door to sit and fill out the forms. The form that includes information on why we might be seeing a dentist that works with kids with special needs.


(I should have left at this point seeing the patient through the window that was being held down by his mother for a teeth cleaning but hindsight is 20/20)

As we are brought in to a shared room, Simon gets himself up to the chair, which is actually more like a table, and lies mostly down (pretending to do sit ups). I get asked a few questions (WHERE I REPEAT WHAT I HAVE WRITTEN ON THE ABOVE MENTIONED FORM THAT HE HAS CLEARLY NOT READ) as Dr x  places his hands around my son's ears and pulls his head down gently.

And he is where it goes south or really let's just say to HELL.  He doesn't tell Simon what he's going to do.  Just puts his gloved fingers in Simon's mouth and begins to feel around. I start to explain to Simon that Dr x is just feeling around as my child becomes more and more agitated.  When he's done with the feeling, he reaches over and grabs one of those really fucking scary looking dental picks and goes to put it in Simon's mouth.

It's here I have enough wherewithal to stop him and ask him to show the device to Simon and tell him what it's for.

I get nothing. He barely pauses and begins to tap Simon's teeth and asks me to hold his arms tighter. I do so automatically because at this point I just want to finish and am on autopilot.

I fucking hate autopilot.

Because what happens next I'm having a hard time forgiving myself for. Before I could even realize what was happening, the tech hands the Dr the electric polisher and then places what looks like a metal torture device into Simon's mouth to keep it open. I can see that he is starting to really lose it, with fat tears coming  out of his eyes and his tongue rolled back in to his mouth. He is terrified.
I am in shock.

What is happening? There is no talking, no explaining, no visuals, nothing. We move directly from that into a fluoride treatment and before I know it, we are done. Simon is released and as he sits up he vomits all over me and reaches for me clinging for dear life. As we are given a paper towel and shown where the bathroom is to "clean him up," I hear the Dr say " you know next time we can use restraints on him." He is saying that to me.

In front of my son.

As he his moving on to the next patient.

We get into the bathroom and I go to clean Simon's shirt and shorts but before I can get two swipes in, Simon has moved into my lap, buried his face into my neck and holds on for dear life as he lets out the most heartbreaking moans and sobs.

I let him rip and at this point start feeling what has happened. The entire appointment has taken less than 10 minutes.  I think we spent at least that in the bathroom just holding each other tightly and waiting for the feeling of trauma and violation to settle.

Simon is fine and even excited to get his goodie bag of toothpaste and brush. He manages a thank you and goodbye to the dentist and office staff and we are off to get some french fries.

He's ok.

I am not. I start shaking with fury.  I'm still shaking as I type this.
On my evening dog walk I finally call and leave a message on his office voicemail.
I am not kind.
I demand a call back.
I am not kind.

When does this end? When do I stop having to hold my son down?
When does the world slow down just a little to help the small person that's scared?
When do we give some power to the ones that feel powerless?
When do we let our special little ones have some semblance of control or honor their curiosity and fear?
When do we let the child that is afraid of the dentist touch the tools, hear what's coming, practice on Mommy, do whatever they and their big person think might make this easier to do before we move in with loud and scary apparatus?
When do we stop moving at a lightening fast pace to pack in as many patients as possible because it's the denti-cal program and pays significantly less $$ than private insurance?
When do the PTSD triggers end?




The video below only made the night end a little better.
It is one of my favorites.

Would that I could go all wild rumpus on Dr x's ass, I would.
And not in any kind of Quaker Tikkun Olam Chaplain sort of way either.

Scenes from the weekend.


Kristina said...

I feel for you and send you many, many cyber-hugs from (sudden cold!) Canada. As the teacher of a 'regular' grade 3/4 class this year with 18 kids and 11 special needs, I can tell you the world fucking SUCKS for kids that need that slow-down. It's a learning curve for us, too, to try to change the world (one dentist at a time) to understand what they need and apply it ourselves when they won't. You are amazing and Simon is resilient. Xo

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy following your blog and am so sorry this happened to you guys. We've had similar experiences at the dentist and are really happy at Children's Hospital in Oakland now. Their dental clinic--although not always the shortest wait--take Denti-cal and has been fantastic with my special-needs son. No rushing, no pressure, tons of explaining, only did what he was comfortable with, gave us tips on trying a vibrating toothbrush at home to (eventually) get him used to the equipment used there.

My son actually has private insurance now, but I still take him to CHO because they are so good. Because they're a non-profit, it doesn't seem that the are trying to get as many people through the doors as possible. I'm glad your boy emerged relatively unscathed--I think the pain lingers longer for the parents :(

Anonymous said...

Please publish that dentists number on Facebook. Maybe some would make appointments. (Wink wink) Maybe some could call his office and demand to speak about the disgusting way that man acted. He's no doctor. "First do no harm".

amyfibre said...

I so love your blog as a window into a world I do not, and cannot, know, with the hopes that it helps me better interact with the whole world. This particular glimpse has me in tears, of sadness for both of you, of rage at the dentist. I know you will respond more appropriately than I would, but I offer to hold the dentist down while you pummel him. Love and light to you and Simon.

Laura Perry said...

what, in the ACTUAL HELL, is wrong with people? Anyone who knows a goddamned thing about kids with PTSD and sensory issues would not have handled any single part of it that way. I don't even know where to begin to say about what you should say to the dentist, but I sure as hell would go on Yelp and any other website where his info is posted and give that information. Hopefully you can spare some other kiddo that trauma. So, so sorry.

rachel said...

Jesus. I horrified w you sister. Keep writing and sharing. Glad to be part of your cyber spiritual safety net. Love you all. - frida

Jen Boxerman said...

I'm so sorry to hear about this traumatic experience. Had a similar one at Aloha where they even made a private "special needs" appointment. I realized afterward that it's actually just so we don't scare away other families. I also went into autopilot. Held him down myself just to get it over as quickly as possible. I love these pics of Griffin and Simon playing together. Some day all our divergent kids will rise up against the conformity regime and establish a new world order. Or so I tell myself to get through the tough times.

Tanneke said...

OK, starting with I am neither a parent or an educator (or a dentist, for that matter). But even my non-parent brain asks why EVERY child shouldn't get the explanation and the chance to understand what's happening why they have a new weird experience? We let a puppy or a kitten sniff new objects, but a child, any child, should have to restrained????
Yes, I did read or the other stuff about the dentists's so-called focus on special-needs, and am horrified.
The more I read, both in this blog and others, and the more I listen to my friends with children and friends who teach, the more I believe that anyone dealing with special-needs children is ahead of the curve on how children overall should be treated.

Jeri said...

Thank you for posting this. I'm so sorry that this happened to your sweet boy, or anyone's kid for that matter.
Not OK. Just NOT OK. I hate it when this kind of stuff happens! From the "Pediatric specialist dentist" who was about to NOT allow me into the room, to the Pediatric psychologist who MADE us psychotic, to the pediatric dentist who was holding my insurance cards, telling me that our insurance would pay for my 4 year-old to be sedated for a simple filling...Just not OK.
I have found that there ARE some really great, really patient doctors and dentists out there, and I just don't take it from the ones who aren't.
My unsolicited advice is to find a new dentist, and visit him/her by yourself before you take Simon. You're paying them a butrillion dollars, you might as well get what you need.

KK said...


Our dentist who doesn't as far as I know advertise herself for special needs, does everything you wanted this dentist to do. Everything that is crucial for Simon's well being is also really what should be done for all kids.

I haven't a clue about insurance or Medical, but I do know she does some clinic work for uninsured patient. She's also fast.

I am so sorry you had to deal with this totally unnecessary trauma after all Simon's been through.

If you want the name of my dentist. Email Kirsten
at well dot com. And I'll send it back.

PS. We've met IRL as they say. My son also saw one of Simon's cardiologists, and our midwife was your Lactation consultant.

Jessica Russell said...

We see Dr. Renaldo Negron at Piedmont Pediatric Dentistry on Grand Ave. My kids don't have sensory issues, but my son was very scared of the dentist and these folks do everything you wished your dentist had done. They don't even put them into a real dentist chair if they're too scared, they let you stay on your caregiver's lap. They show you all the tools and let you practice brushing on a big stuffed dog with giant teeth! They talk to the kids about what they're going to do at every step. Maybe they take you're insurance. I highly recommend them.