Logan and Mom had a rough morning today. He’s nine years old now; but in many ways, we are still dealing with issues that we faced when he was a toddler. Logan is a very special and precious little boy who often does not understand what is happening or what is being asked of him. Then, there are other times when Logan knows exactly what is happening but just is not happy about it. Logan’s Autism plus sensory issues and overall devolpmental issues have been a challenge every day of his life. Even though he has made tremendous progress and we are very thankful, my husband and I realize that we have many miles to go on the road to helping him become as independant as possible.
This morning, Logan had a dentist appointment. I have written about taking him to the dentist before, in my post called One Brave Little Boy. A dentist visit is a big deal for Logan because of his extreme oral sensitivity. I was amazed at how brave and self-controlled Logan was when he had his teeth cleaned earlier this year. He willed himself to be brave and to tolerate all of the things that really bothered him. I was hoping for a similar experience today, but I think that Logan remembered the extraction of 2 teeth and the application of sealants that had occured at the next appointment after the awesome dental cleaning experience. That 2nd (extraction) appoinment of 2013 was a lot tougher for Logan. (I also wrote about this extraction appointment in the update to the post mentioned above.) Today’s appoinment, however, the 3rd one in 2013, made the extraction appointment seem like nothing.
Logan was upbeat and in a good mood when we arrived at the dentist’s office. However, as soon as it was time for him to get into the patient chair, Logan was not happy. He did allow the hygienist to put on the paper bib; but after that, he was not ready to cooperate in any way. Logan did not want to lean back in the chair, didn’t want to open his mouth, and wanted nothing to do with the tooth polisher. His favorite hygienist (mine, too!) who has always been so good with him in the past was called in to take over. Another hygienist had to hold his legs, and I had to hold his arms and keep his torso down. Logan screamed quite a bit, sometimes clenched his teeth, and was terrified again. He’d been such a brave, big guy at his last cleaning; but today, it was as if that good experience had never occurred. Logan’s extreme oral sensitivity took over; and he was, once again, just a scared little boy who wanted the torture to stop.
I was so glad when Logan’s dental cleaning was over. Holding him down was physically exhausting, and the whole experience is mentally and emotionally draining. I had hoped that a “restraint team” would not be needed for dental appointments anymore after our good experience in February, but today’s experience made it clear how much just one negative experience can set Logan back.
The dentist came to look at Logan’s teeth after today’s cleaning, and Logan cried and had to be held down again. The dentist then gave me the unwelcome news that Logan’s mouth is never going to be large enough to accomodate his full set of permanent teeth. He is going to have to have serial (as in ‘a series of’) extractions as different permanent teeth come in. It will essentially be orthodontia by extraction, with the removal of some teeth making room for others to move into place. This was not exactly the best news after seeing what a setback the recent extractions were to all of the progress Logan had made with his oral sensitivity issues relating to dental care.
The roughest part of the morning, however, had not yet occurred. After the morning’s dental experiences (cleaning with the hygienist and “restraint team” plus inspection with the Dentist and a repeat performance), which terrified Logan and exhausted me, Logan would innocently do something else that terrified me and still has me shaken and on the verge of tears. We had gone to the billing desk on our way out of the building after Logan was released by the Dentist. Logan got a drink from the nearby water fountain while I talked to the billing clerk. She could not find a record of our payment for the extraction, even though I knew that my husband, Travis, had paid. I tried to call Travis, but he didn’t answer. Then, I texted him to have him call the dental office, giving him the phone number and the name of the lady in billing. As I was texting Travis, Logan walked behind me and out to the waiting room. There are toys and books for the children in that area, so I was glad that he would be occupied. The billing clerk continued to check her computer to attempt to locate our payment. She finally found it. Our dentist office has our 5 sons who are their patients in 2 separate accounts. This was a mistake made a long time ago, but they tell me that they cannot fix it without deleting all of the records for the boys that would be moved from one account to the other. In this instance, the double accounts for our family caused the billing issue. The payment for Logan’s extraction had been credited to the account that includes some of our other boys but not Logan. Finally, the issue was settled so that we could leave. But, where was Logan?
I walked into the waiting room, and Logan was nowhere to be found. I asked some of the parents if they’d seen him, and then I headed outside. I thought that he might have gone to our Suburban in the parking lot. I was beginning to get panicky. The building our Dentist uses is located just off a very busy multi-lane road behind a thriving business. The side street on another side of the building is also very busy, with 5 lanes of traffic at the intersection of those 2 thoroughfares. Logan does not understand dangers like busy streets or strangers. Anything could happen to him. He could be anywhere. I pushed past the rising fear and kept calling Logan’s name as I approached our vehicle. There was no sign of him.
I turned around to run back inside. One sweet Mom met me halfway back to the building to ask if I’d found him yet. When I got back inside, I was not shy at all about letting the office staff and everyone within earshot know that my little boy was missing and has Autism. Although I had kept my voice as calm as I could and didn’t speak loudly, there was enough fear in my tone and panic in my eyes to send the office staff scrambling. It took about 3 minutes for Logan to be found, inside the building, in a corner of the room where his cleaning had been done.
Although I am very thankful that Logan is safe, the thought of what could have happened really shook me. It’s not as though we only have to be concerned about where Logan is when he is at the Dentist’s office, either. No matter where we go, Logan could disappear around a corner in a matter of seconds and be in a busy parking lot or street. He could become lost in the wooded areas between subdivisions. We have been aware of this issue for some time now, and every close call only makes me more concerned. Once, this past year, Logan got away from his teacher and aides at school. They found him later on the playground. Once, a few months ago, Logan left our yard and our cul-de-sac. Travis found him wandering down another street in our neighborhood. We have been talking very seriously about getting a tracking bracelet for Logan, and I am sure that we will be looking into that as soon as possible. That could give us some peace of mind in knowing that if he were to get lost, there would be a way to locate him. I don’t know how quickly the locating process works, but he could still be in the middle of a busy street faster than we could get to him. I have to give my fears to the Lord, and we have to do our best to continue teaching him about dangers. Even so, I know deep down that he can be very unaware when he is in his own little world and that he might quote a line from Buzz Lightyear if he was asked for his address. His knowledge can only protect him if he understands why it is important, and therein lies the problem. Even though I know that we can’t totally protect Logan from everything, I am still human enough to be emotional after an experience like this morning.
As we drove into the driveway about an hour ago, I said something very normal to Logan. I said, “We’re home!”. Immediately, my mind flew into emotional mode, thinking that both of us had made it home. My eyes filled with tears… tears for a scared little boy, tears for a terrified Mom, tears for the innocence that makes him so vulnerable, tears for a close call, tears for the panicked moments of not knowing, tears for more dental trauma to come… and tears of thankfulness that we have survived thus far. Thank you, Lord! Our rough morning could have been much rougher.
After a few hours had passed, I had gained further perspective. Logan was totally unaware that he was ever ‘lost’. He knew exactly where he was the whole time. For him, the smiles and and happy mood had returned quickly. He mentioned several times throughout the day, “You went to the Dentist Doctor.” (referring to himself) He had a great feeding therapy session the same afternoon and was glad to play with his brothers when we returned home. I’m also glad. The hugs, the smiles, and the sweet little voice are such precious gifts. Thank you, Lord, for Logan. 🙂