Joshua visits a special needs dentist every three months these days, since he stopped eating 18 months ago, due to undetected abscesses and tooth decay. He had an appointment there at 8.30 yesterday morning, so we went on the way to school. He was pleased to be there and spent the first few minutes after we arrived, waving at the reception staff cheerily. But then I had to complete some paperwork, he became bored and so he began to kick my shins and then the reception counter, until I gave him a pen and some scrap paper, so that he could join in and fill in forms too.
When the dental nurse called us through, he suddenly became very attached to the chairs in the waiting room and he moved from one to the other, as we tried to persuade him into the surgery. He then had to be persuaded to sit in the big dentists chair, so that the dentist could look inside his mouth. he cooperated for a short while, long enough for her to see that I need to try harder to access the bottom of his teeth, where they meet his gums. I always consider it a success if he will allow his electric toothbrush in his mouth for more than 30 seconds, so I will focus on different areas of his mouth first in the future.
Last July he was sedated so that another dentist could remove troublesome, rotten teeth, add fillings and have a proper look around. She told me that he would be seen again in six months time for another examination and clean, so I have been expecting an appointment through the post since the new year but nothing has arrived as yet. Before we know it, that appointment will be a whole year ago and so I asked his dentist to chase up the referral for us. She agreed to do that, but added that due to the long waiting list for such sedated treatment, realistically, it was never going to be in six months time, 12-18 months was much more likely. Luckily I do not think that Joshua is in tooth -pain at present, but even if he was, this would be the expected delay, which is really not good enough.
We were only in the surgery for 5 minutes, and then we picked up another appointment for 3 months time and headed into school. He was very excited to get to school and he ran into his classroom and sought out his teaching assistant, so I left him in his happy place, clearly not traumatised at all by his visit to the dentist.
My friend tells me that Joshua is not naughty but he is communicating, well if that is the case, he was communicating a lot yesterday morning at the Health Centre. We had been sent there for a podiatry appointment as his splints and walking gait have rubbed his skin, so he has callouses on the side of his right foot. So orthotics had asked me to ask our GP for a chiropody referral, which I duly did and this appointment was the result.
It was at 9.20 and as I was unsure about parking facilities and how the rush hour traffic might impact on me, so we were ten minutes early, as I found a Disabled parking space right outside the entrance. We went inside and told reception that we had arrived and were told to sit in the waiting room until we were called. Chance would be a fine thing, Joshua was not in the mood to sit and wait and chaos ensued as he tried every tactic he had in his repertoire to communicate :
- He kept standing in front of the automatic doors, so that the endlessly opened and shut, letting an artic gale inside each time he did so
- He walked up to the reception desk, a pillar and a door marked ‘staff only’ and kicked them hard
- He ran into the adjacent GP surgery reception, leaned over the desk and grabbed their telephone, pretending to make a call
- He ran down the corridor, trying to access a door marked ‘private’
- When I found him books to look at, they were tossed onto the floor, as was my mobile phone
- When I got him to sit down, he tried to knock the chair next to him over
- He leaned over to stare at a young girl close to her face, the pre-school girl was afraid of him but I was just relieved that he did not grab at her bright, bobble hat as he does not usually allow anyone to wear a hat
- He stroked a mother’s hair then tugged her ponytail
Finally, exhausted, he sat next to me and leaned on my shoulder, to have a rest and it is of course at that calm moment, that we were called through to see Podiatry. Unfortunately, the lady asked us both to sit down while she filled in an introductory form. As Joshua was being ignored, he began to play up again : pulling notices off the walls, trying to escape, kicking the radiator, switching a fan on and trying to gain access to her computer keyboard! Having seen how ‘busy’ he was, the podiatrist said that there was no way that she was going to take a sharp blade to his feet as it would be just too dangerous. She seemed reluctant to even ask him to remove his shoes, socks and splints to look at his foot. But I insisted that she saw the extent of the problem after we had waited so long to be seen.
Remarkably, he sat back on the long couch and happily allowed me to remove his footwear and then he sat very still while she simply filed the callous and even cut his toenails while he was there. She made us another appointment for 3 May and I agreed to bring his iPad next time, to encourage him to sit still both in the waiting room and in the appointment itself. Exhausted by the busy and frustrating 40 minutes in the Health Centre, we got back to the car and I drove him into school, via Donald’s for breakfast.