Back out into the world…

I’ve been off by myself for a while, now. I kind of over-did it with my posting on forums and my writing, for a few weeks — working like crazy, as though my life depended on me finishing my edits (which, I suppose, it felt like it did)… and then reaching a stopping place… or having it reach me.

I guess I “blew my wad” of online personal resources. But now I’m back and posting.

Something kind of distressing happened to me a few days ago. I’ve been seeing a therapist for a little over a year, and it’s been going pretty well. I have heard lots of people say that traditional “talk therapy” isn’t that effective for Aspies, but for me it’s been very helpful to have someone to talk to in a controlled setting, once a week, like clockwork. It’s like paying someone to be my friend, as pathetic as that may sound. But it’s true — many of the qualities I seek in a friend, I have found in this therapist.

Talking with her has helped me really zero in on my AS, as well as other cognitive/behavioral issues I’ve had all my life, but never really came to grips with. It’s kind of eerie, how much of my life was unarticulated, and how much of it I misunderstood or didn’t even recognize, because it was just always there… it was just part of my life, and I thought it was normal. Until I’d discuss it with C. and find out that not everybody does things the way I do them.

I’ve seriously been so sequestered and so blocked off behind this autistic wall, that I never fully realized many different aspects of my life existed, till I talked about them with C. and found out that they were there. Sort of like having another personality, except that I don’t. I’m not nearly that exciting — I just have this life that I lived privately and always thought was typical.

Until I found out it wasn’t.

So, anyway, C. and I have been talking, and I brought up the AS subject with her, and she was just not open to it. I suppose I should have brought it up sooner, but I really didn’t have the words to describe what the heck was “up” with me, until fairly recently. I can write to my heart’s content. I can understand things visually and spatially and relationally, but when I’m talking with someone, it’s like this part of my brain clicks off and is so busy trying to figure out how to not get into social hot water with the person I’m talking with, that I forget where I am and what I wanted to talk about, and the subject flies out the window.

I have a really eventful life on a daily basis, anyway, and since I see C. only once a week for 50  minutes, that doesn’t leave a lot of time for wandering farther afield than how my day/week has gone, and what I did when someone did some shitty thing to me, and how it relates to my relationship with my parents, my partner, etc.

it’s funny, tho’ — now that I think about it, I thought that we were talking about my AS (albeit in a roundabout way), for the past months. We would talk about my issues, we would talk about my social difficulties, etc. etc., and she would say things like, “Why don’t researchers just ask the people who are dealing with the issues, what it’s like to deal with them, instead of making snap judgments in laboratories that affect a whole generation?” Sounds like she’s talking about autism, right?

Well, uh, I guess not.

‘Cause when I brought up Asperger’s, she was sorta kinda flabbergasted, as though the thought had never occurred to her. She even said that she wouldn’t have guessed I’ve got AS. And I had to wonder WHY? What part of me sitting across from her, twitching and ticciing and stimming, not making eye contact, humming to myself, commenting about my physical sensitivities being worse than usual, and my long series of social gaffes, not to mention going absolutely silent for 5-10 minutes at a time is NOT autistic?

I don’t get it. Maybe there’s another syndrome that accounts for it? If so, I’d like to know what that is. Or maybe I wouldn’t.

Anyway, when she told me she didn’t think I had AS, and she went into this long spiel about how her husband has ADD and his family all has ADD, and his sister has Asperger’s, and he’s nothing like her, and how I’m NOT AUTISTIC! it really threw me for a loop. Not immediately, of course. It took a while for it to sink in. But after a few minutes, I could feel the standard withdrawal kicking in.

Shut down…

(to be continued)

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Armed to the Teeth – Coping strategies for dental procedures

Armed to the Teeth

Coping strategies for dental procedures for highly sensitive individuals


Introduction

When it comes to health care, few aspects are as problematic for individuals with heightened physical sensitivities, especially those on the Autistic Spectrum and with Asperger’s Syndrome (“AS”). I, myself have had considerable sensory issues, from childhood into adulthood, and I’ve “been through the ringer” many times with the dentist. Fortunately, I’ve developed a number of coping strategies and mechanisms, and by trial-and-error, I’ve figured out how to visit the dentist successfully and persevere through even the most trying procedures.

I have written this work in hopes of shedding some light on the ubiquitous and mysterious conundrum of ASI’s and their extreme difficulties with the dentist. The coming pages explore this issue through the lens of my own personal sensory and social experiences, as a 43 year-old woman on the Asperger’s end of the Autistic Spectrum, who has both experienced and overcome lifelong difficulties with dentists.

It is my hope that this work may shed light on common (but often unrecognized) sensory issues which are often particular to AS, show the significant part these play in further complicating what is already a difficult process (whether you’re autistic or neurotypical). Believe me, you/we are not alone! And NT parents of AS kids, please note: We’re not deliberately trying to thwart your attempts to get us the best dental care possible. We’re just very special people with extreme sensitivities which aren’t (yet) particularly well understood. And those issues can make going to the dentist nothing short of torture.

Personal Background

I am a 43-year-old Aspie woman with lifelong, chronic sensory issues, who has always had real problems with the dentist. Fortunately, I tend to be pretty obsessive-compulsive, when it comes to my daily dental care. When I’m nervous, I soothe by brushing my teeth. And I’m very careful with how I brush (I used to work with a guy who was even more OCD than I, and he brushed his teeth so hard, he wore the enamel off and had to have them all bonded — the thought of that doesn’t appeal to me in the least, so I’m very careful when I brush!). I also chill out in the evenings by flossing while I’m relaxing after a long day. So, I manage to soothe my frazzled nerves and take care of my teeth at the same time, which is great for avoiding painful dental procedures.

I absolutely detest getting my teeth cleaned and worked on. I can be so phobic about it, I go to great lengths to avoid the dentist, both by canceling my dentist appointments, and by being so conscientious about brushing and flossing that I get the seal of approval from my dentist every year. They are continuously amazed at how well I take care of my teeth, and they begrudgingly tell me that I probably don’t need to come every six months to get my teeth cleaned. They hate telling me that, but it’s the truth.

When I do visit the dentist and I need to have a tooth filled or a crown put on, I’ve developed some coping strategies that let me stay in the chair for however long I have to, and keep from losing my mind. It wasn’t always that way. I used to really “lose it” and suffer for hours afterwards, even days. Going to the dentist used to exhaust me so terribly, I’d be in shock and all I could do was sleep, after I got home. Now I have my ways of dealing with it, and I’ll share them with you shortly.

Others are not so lucky to have good coping skills, unfortunately. A close friend of mine is so sensitive and so phobic about the dentist that she neglected her teeth for years, and she’s now paying the price. She’s got to get lots of fillings replaced, have multiple root canals, and she may lose some of her teeth to a bridge. She’s also missing a tooth in the back of her mouth, which she hasn’t had replaced by a bridge or an implant, and now her teeth are “floating” out of position, which is not good, because she’s a voice actress, and she needs to have good enunciation to get work.

Bad teeth are a bad problem for her, and her problems have their root in her sensitivities, her fears, and her history of trauma with the dentist. The thing about your teeth though, is that — like we imagine about other problems — if we ignore them, they’ll just go away. But if you want to keep your teeth (or you want your kids to keep theirs), figuring out how to go to the dentist is an essential coping skill that you really can’t avoid cultivating — unless you don’t care about bad teeth.

Why It’s So Hard for Some of Us
Going to the dentist isn’t pure living hell for everyone. I don’t know anyone who enjoys it, but not everyone sees it as the life-and-death situation that some of us dread. I’m one of those people who, for years, had a terrible time even thinking about the dentist. But there’s a reason for everything.

Those annual visits were particularly hard for me because:
The sounds of getting my teeth worked on was very hard to take. I think it’s safe to say, everybody hates the sound of a dentist drill. I can’t imagine anyone who does (other than the drill-makers who delight in the sound of their products being used). It wasn’t just when I was in the chair, that it bothered me — it was hearing the drill in the background, while I was sitting in the waiting room, dreading the thought of being the person in the chair.

I never knew for sure, if the drill would be used on me, which was nerve-wracking. It’s one thing, if I knew something horrible was going to happen. Then I could prepare for it. But not knowing was probably the hardest piece.

One of the other problems was, not only the drill made noise. Everything in the dentist office made noise. The cleaning apparatus, the little spittoon that had the blue water that swirled my spittle and blood down the drain, the x-ray machine, the sound of implements being arranged and re-arranged. The cleaning apparatus sounded a lot like a drill, too, when it got going, so I had a lot of bad associations with it, even though I knew that getting my teeth cleaned was not the same as having them drilled and filled.

One of the other sounds that really bothered me was the sound of the cleaning pick on my teeth. The scratchy grinding of the metal against my teeth…. well, put my teeth on edge. I hate the sound of hard things scraping against my teeth (including wooden popsicle sticks), so the sound of the cleaning pick was pretty distracting and troublesome. Imagine having someone sit you down, forbid you from moving, and force you to listen to fingernails on a chalkboard for an hour, and you’ll get a little bit of an idea of what it’s like for some of us. But I had to put up with the sound, so my teeth would be clean.
Another problem I had was with sitting still for an extended period of time. When you have sensory issues, it can be next to impossible to sit still. I personally need to move to relieve the sensory agitation, and “move the energy” that gets “blocked” like a flowing river stopped up. I was pretty hyper when I was a kid, which I believe was sensory in nature — directly related to my surroundings. Being assailed by the noises of the room and not being able to move, to calm my nerves, was just torture.

Now, I was actually able to keep still, when I was a kid. But the only thing that did it was the fear of being cut or nicked by a sharp implement. It wasn’t pleasant, feeling like I was under constant threat, but it did the job. Also, I grew up in a time and a place that was very discipline-oriented, and most adults had no problems with correcting badly behaving children. So, my dentist was often stern with me and insisted I sit still. I think that a more lenient approach would not have worked with me. And operating in a parented environment like today’s, when permissiveness and acceptance is much more widespread, would not have helped me to sit still.

I could also never tell exactly when the cleaning would be over, which made me crazy.
I could sit still for a while, if I knew when I was going to be able to move, but being locked in place for an indeterminate period of time was torture. Again, I was reprimanded by the dentist or hygienist, if I moved, so I knew what I was supposed to do. And I did my best to do it.

Blood in my mouth and blood on my clothing made me very uncomfortable. The experience of spitting out blood into the spittoon made me really nervous. It defied my logic. In the first place, my mind told me that blood belonged inside your body, not outside. Bleeding was a sign that something was wrong. And if I was spitting out blood, then something was wrong, and the dentist/hygienist was doing something bad to me.

Bleeding was bad.

People who made you bleed were bad.

People who made a living from making you bleed were not to be trusted.

People who brought me to the people who made you bleed for a living were punishing me for something, but for exactly what, I was never sure.

It was pretty rough to sit there and submit to what I perceived to be mistreatment at the hands of people my mother handed me over to.

Ultimately, I learned to differentiate between intentionally making people bleed for fun, and having bleeding be incidental to a necessary procedure. Eventually, I learned about necessary evils and how to tolerate them for the sake of long-term gain. But it was pretty rough, when I was a kid, trying to get my head around the experience of dentist visits. It just didn’t make sense that my mother, who loved me, made me go to them.

Only when I was in my teens did it occur to me that bleeding while getting dental work done might be good. I learned that bleeding is the body’s way of cleaning out wounds, and I came to associate some (but not all) types of bleeding with a positive physical action. So, that helped me cope emotionally with the normally distressing experience of spitting out blood.

One thing that was really troubling for me, too, was getting blood on my clothing. I couldn’t always hit the spittoon properly — I was disoriented and dizzy (which I’ll talk about in a bit), and I would sometimes get blood on my clothing. I hated that! The little red specks on my clothing made me so uncomfortable, both as a reminder of what I’d been through, and because they could stain. Blood spots were messy. Messy made me nervous.

It took me years to figure out how to keep the blood off my clothing. I was a real klutz when I was a kid, but as I matured, my balance and coordination improved.

The taste and texture of the toothpaste was a problem for me. I hated the feel of the grainy texture on my teeth, and the taste of it bothered me. Eventually, I came to associate the taste with clean teeth, and it became actually agreeable to me. But years later, when they started having different flavors available for kids, that made me nervous, because I associated sweet flavors with a) sugar and b) artificial flavorings, both of which I was convinced were “bad”.

I had a strong fear of swallowing the toothpaste. In my young mind, I associated the toothpaste with medicine, and I got it into my head that swallowing the toothpaste would be a very bad thing. I was so on-edge when the toothpaste would come close to the back of my mouth, where I might swallow it. But I couldn’t move to rinse it out, because the dentist/hygienist had to work on me. It was so nerve-wracking!

Years later, it occurred to me that a dentist probably wouldn’t have toothpaste that was toxic or poisonous, or that couldn’t be safely swallowed, at least in small amounts. If that were the case, I reasoned, a lot of people would be dead, and dentists would be put out of business by lawsuits. So, I convinced myself that swallowing toothpaste would not be the end of the world.

I didn’t deliberately swallow it, but taking the pressure off made it easier for me to relax — and avoid ingesting any of the paste.

I was desperately afraid of choking. I always have been. Some Aspies have real problems with swallowing, and I had some issues when I was a kid. When I went swimming, I often accidentally inhaled or swallowed water, and it completely freaked me out. So, I associated having a mouth full of uncontrollable liquid with the feeling of drowning.

Being in the dentist chair, I had a hard time coordinating all my senses, to begin with, so controlling my swallowing reflex was even harder. Sometimes, I literally couldn’t feel whether or not the rinse was going down my throat, and that really frightened me. When you’ve nearly choked often enough, you start to get a complex about possibly having something go down the wrong pipe.

The lights were too bright. Of course, dentists have to have enough light to see what they’re doing, but for me, it was too much light. That spotlight was supposed to be bright, but it was blinding, and it made it even more difficult to keep my balance and keep from choking on the rinse.

I hated having that overhead light lowered down to point right in my face — very glaring! I can get sensorily overwhelmed even more quickly, if bright light is combined with loud sounds and strong smells, so the dentist chair was not a friendly place for me. It was just so overwhelming. There was no escaping it… Bright lights overhead, the sound of equipment and drills and machinery, the smell of toothpaste and medical supplies…

It was almost too much at times.

Being injured for days afterwards completely threw off my everyday sensory experience.
Having nicks and cuts in my mouth complicated things, because it distracted me from my daily sensory experience. It was a new physical sensation my mind has to “parse” each moment of each day, until the injuries heal up. It’s bad enough that I get nicked and cut and bloody while I’m at the dentist, but then to have to go through days of this “sensory background noise” of constant sensitivity and pain, is disorienting and agitating. I’ve since learned to deal with this… it’s really been a learned thing for me, as I’ve gained life experience with having a sore mouth after dentist visits, and I’ve learned how to handle it. But when I was young, it was so hard for me to handle the feeling of cuts in my mouth.

I was afraid that I’d infect them, or they wouldn’t heal. It really hurt me! But I didn’t let on, because I didn’t want to worry my parents. I’d made their lives difficult enough with my problems. I didn’t want to burden them with more.

I hated being leaned back in that chair. Sitting absolutely still in the chair was hard for me. The longer I was in the chair and the longer the cleaning or procedure lasted, the harder it got. I felt like I was going to fall over, and I was afraid I’d be cut by the dental implements. I was intent on holding still, but I was so distracted by the feel of my teeth being worked on, that I often felt nauseous. I literally felt sick, whenever I was leaned back in that awful chair, forced to look into the light.

When I’m off balance, to this day, I have to hold my head a certain way in order to feel right again — but moving my head this way and that was definitely not what the dentist wanted me to do. I remember many an exclamation of frustration and consternation, when I would move at just the wrong time, and the dentist would lose his/her angle and would have to start again.

It also made taking x-rays tough, when I couldn’t hold still long enough for them to position the film or take the shot. I remember some times when I messed up the shot and they had to try again… or I’d be in such pain and discomfort from the film holder digging into my sensitive gums. It couldn’t be over soon enough, and I dreaded the thought of getting x-rays.

Nobody seemed to understand what I was going through. Indeed, if you don’t have balance and/or sensory issues, it’s probably next to impossible to grasp the impact that such instability has on your head, your attention, your stomach. Just imagine what it would be like to ride a tilt-a-whirl for three hours, then get off and have someone tell you that you have to sit up straight and hold absolutely still for half an hour, or you’ll be cut with sharp scissors and/or end up looking really awful. That’s what it was like for me. But whenever I tried to adjust my head to regain my balance, I’d get out of position, and whoever was working on my teeth would get very upset with me. I couldn’t help it — I was just trying to stay upright. And not throw up.

I also had trouble coordinating my physical position with a mouth full of liquid — that was very troubling. There was something about having to concentrate on not choking on what was in my mouth that made it hard for me to sense the space around me, which threw my sense of balance off.

The talking made me nervous.
First of all, I couldn’t respond well, if my mouth was numbed. And second, I couldn’t really understand what was being said, because my thinking was so focused on keeping my sensory experience together. It took me a while to figure out a) that someone was talking to me, b) what they were saying, c) what it meant (I had to translate into pictures in my head), d) how I should respond, e) what I should say (I had to translate the pictures in my head back into words, and f) if what I’d said was the right thing.

Talking was usually at a minimum at the dentist, but when it happened, it was important, so the pressure was even greater for me to communicate, which I couldn’t do very well. It was all I could, to just sit still, let alone come up with a coherent verbal response.

And that, dear reader, is a relatively brief overview of the sensory challenges this Aspie kid had with going to the dentist. There have been times when I’ve toyed with the idea of having all my teeth extracted and just having dentures, but in reality, that’s the last thing I want to do!

Fortunately, I’ve figure out some ways to deal with the dentist, and I’ll share them now.

Dental Coping Ideas from Aspie-Land

Getting through even the most “routine” dental procedure takes a pretty strong act of will with me, but I can do it. I have to do it.

I’ve developed a set of specific, deliberate physical actions with my tongue, and I have a special breathing technique that really works. It suppresses my gag reflex, keeps me from choking, and (perhaps most importantly), it keeps my mind off the sounds of the drill and/or the cleaning pick. It also lets me feel that I have some control in the situation, which is an important psychological aspect of each visit.

How do I do it?

Basically, I position my tongue, so that it’s pressed against the back of my throat and flat on the floor of my mouth, I breathe loudly through my nose, and I make a conscious effort to either relax specific parts of my body, or I hold onto the arms of the chair and “stim” along the seams of the upholstery.

Here’s a picture of what I do, with my mouth and my breathing:

Mouth and Tongue Positioning to avoid choking and breathe during dentist visists
Mouth and Tongue Positioning to avoid choking and breathe freely during dentist visits

Using my Tongue to Suppress my Gag Reflex and Gain Control
The specific, deliberate physical action of pulling my tongue to the back of my throat and pressed to the floor of my mouth not only keeps my mind off the whine of the drill and the scraping of the cleaning pick, but it also gives me a greater sense of control in the situation.

How do you do it?

Pull your tongue to the back of your mouth, pressing it against your epiglottis (that little dangly thing that hangs down in the middle of your throat). You should feel a “wad” of tongue against the back of your mouth. Now, at the same time, press your tongue flat to the floor of your mouth. You should feel the tip of your tongue making contact with the thin line of membrane that runs under your tongue, connecting your tongue with the bottom of your mouth.

It might seem simple, but this basic action achieves a number of important things for me when I have to endure a trip to the dentist:

First, it blocks off my throat and blocks the way for any liquid to go into my airpipe. Remember, some Aspies have problems swallowing, and with me, I’ve always had an intense fear of drowning and/or choking.
Second, it keeps my tongue away from the machinery, so I don’t get nicked or cut. It also keeps my tongue from interfering with the sharp implements, so I’m not getting in the way of the hygienist or dentist while they’re working. Again, the more my tics and physical responses get in the way of the people who are working on me, the longer my agony lasts. So, keeping my tongue pulled to the back of my mouth lets me participate in the procedure as an equal partner who is involved, not some poor dweeb who is just being put upon.

Third, it gives me a single point of physical focus, on which I can put my full attention.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it gives me the sense that I am in control of my situation, and that I am able to keep myself from gagging, even choking or drowning in the “runoff” from the cleaning/procedure.

Holding my tongue firmly against the back of my mouth and blocking off the fluid runoff from entering my airpipe is probably the most important thing I can do to relieve the anxiety of being in the dentists chair. If I do nothing else through the course of my visit, if I can manage to do this — and if I do it well — I can get out of the office in one piece without being completely wrecked.

Try it and see how it makes you feel — maybe you can try this with your sensitive kid and practice it with them… when you’re driving in the car, or a trip to the dentist comes to mind. You might also want to practice doing it with your sensitive kid(s)… maybe when you’re on long car trips and you’ve run out of things to do. Make it into a game, make it fun, and help them practice this move. It’s a simple thing, but like I said, it offers me a whole lot. Like sanity.

Nasal Breathing
The other part of this is a technique I call “nasal breathing” — it basically makes a lot of noise in my nasal passages while I’m breathing. While my tongue is pulled to the back of my mouth, pressed against my epiglottis, and held down low, out of reach of the cleaning/filling tools, I focus my attention on breathing through my nose. I breathe very slowly and I do it in such a way that it’s actually quite loud. Remember, I have constricted my tongue in the rear of my mouth, and I also constrict my nasal passages.

When I usually breathe, most of the “action” takes place inside my nose, and it’s quiet. When I inhale, I feel and hear it in the front of my nostrils. When I do nasal breathing, I focus my attention on the breath at the back of my nose, and in my nasal passages, and I breathe slowly while “constricting” (I don’t actually know if it’s possible to do that or not) my nasal passages and causing the air to make a rasping, rushing sound as it passes through.

I also count my breaths and take them very slowly — 1 – 2 – 3 – 4… and release them very slowly — 1 – 2 – 3 – 4.

This nasal breathing gives me something else to hear (that’s closer and more immediate) than the drill or pick, and it’s totally controlled by me. If I do it right and I put my full focus on my nasal breathing, I can all but block out the sound of the drill.

Conscious Relaxation

While I’m focusing my attention on my breathing and keeping my tongue in position, I can still get tense. My body has a mind of its own, sometimes, and no matter how engaged my mind is in keeping my tongue and breathing “just right”, I can still become physically uptight, so I need to consciously address that, too.

I focus on specific parts of my body to relax, like my feet and legs. My feet are good candidates for relaxation, because I can actually move them a little without making the person who’s working on me slip and injure me. I wiggle my toes to remind myself they’re still there, then I consciously relax them… and work my way up my body, from toes to feet to ankles to shins to knees to thighs… I’m usually so focused on my tongue and my breathing that I don’t have a lot of attention left over for my feet, but sometimes I have to focus on relaxing them, because I’m getting so tense, and I have to do something else with my brain for a while.

Stimming Relief
In a pinch, if all else fails, I find it helps to hold onto the arms of the chair and “stim” along the seams of the upholstery. I run my fingers along the bumpy edge of the seams, and I press my fingertips against the very end of the arms of the chair. Sometimes it alarms the hygienist or the dentist, but I reassure them that I’m fine. Also, they can see, from whether or not I’m stimming on the chair arm, if I’m getting agitated and taxed, and sometimes they’ll take a break. That’s a relief.

The Bottom Line
Visiting the dentist can be particularly difficult for highly sensitive folks and people on the Autistic Spectrum. But there are ways that I’ve found I can mitigate the effects of dental trauma, and keep my teeth in fine working order. My approaches are based on the assumption that even with hyper-sensitive sensory faculties, my brain can’t necessarily do everything at once, so if I deliberately focus myself on a sensation/experience of my choosing, I can “block out” the necessary evil of dentist visits. It’s taken me 40+ years to figure this out completely, but I now know that if I’m totally, wholly focused with all my undivided attention on one specific set of experiences, I can get through a trip to the dentist in one piece.

This approach has worked for me, many times. I continue to improve (and I continue to procrastinate and cancel dentist appointments, which is a really bad habit of mine that I need to break). But when I cannot avoid the dentist anymore, at least I have some coping mechanisms that help me get through that odious experience in one piece.

In Conclusion
I hope this brief work has given you a sense of what some of us Aspies go through at the dentist. I hope it heightens your sensitivity around what drives us over the edge, and what may help you and/or your Aspie kid to visit the dentist as regularly as possible.

In the end, I believe that we all have our “stuff” we need to get through… our challenges, our shortcomings, our foibles, our hurdles. Just because some of us have traumatic difficulties with the dentist doesn’t mean we’re crazy or deliberately trying to sabotage our health and well-being — we’re just really, really sensitive and we require different strategies to be successful.

Acknowledgments

Tremendous thanks goes to Temple Grandin for her amazing contributions to our understanding of sensory issues on the Autistic Spectrum. I’ve never met her, but her work has truly changed my life.

Olga Bogdashina deserves a big Thank You, as well, for her groundbreaking work on sensory issues among Asperger’s and Autistic individuals. She’s done us all a tremendous service in helping us understand the physicality of the Autistic Spectrum.

Thanks also goes to my friends and family who have persisted in loving and accepting me, through all the ups and downs over the years — many of which I can directly trace back to sensory issues.

Thanks also goes to N and Dr. R, my hygienist and dentist in the Big City, who was the first individual sensitive and sensible enough to not rush me through my dentist visits. I’m forever grateful to you both.

But most of all, thanks Mom, for hanging in there with me and making sure I visited the dentist regularly, when I was in your care. Thanks for being as resourceful and dedicated as you were, dealing with a conundrum like myself. I know it wasn’t easy, but it did pay off!

Note: This paper was begun in response to a post over at Aspergers World.

This paper is freely available for download at visualvox.wordpress.com. No payment is required.

Crossing the Hurdles of Haircuts – Acknowledgements

Tremendous thanks goes to Temple Grandin for her amazing contributions to our understanding of sensory issues on the Autistic Spectrum. I’ve never met her, but her work has truly changed my life.

Olga Bogdashina deserves a big Thank You, as well, for her groundbreaking work on sensory issues among Asperger’s and Autistic individuals. She’s done us all a tremendous service in helping us understand the physicality of the Autistic Spectrum.

Thanks also goes to my friends and family who have persisted in loving and accepting me, through all the ups and downs over the years — many of which I can directly trace back to sensory issues.

Thanks also goes to B., my barber in the Big City, who was the first individual sensitive and sensible enough to give me a decent haircut, every single time, without sending me over the edge. I’ll always have fond memories of your barbershop.

But most of all, thanks Mom, for hanging in there with me and making sure I always looked my best, when I was in your care. Thanks for not giving me unending crap about those ponytails that seemed like they’d never go away, and thanks for being as resourceful as you were, dealing with a conundrum like myself.