Setting Intentions For Your Special Needs Children

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

We've all heard the term "setting intentions", right? It's a pretty well-used term nowadays, especially among life coaches and wellness gurus. But what exactly does it mean?

Setting an intention does several things. First off, it activates a part of your receptivity. When I was growing up, I was always told "If you think bad things are going to happen, they will". That's essentially what this means..You open yourself up to the possibiity of the things you're expecting. Not setting an intention is like setting sail with no destination or coordinates.

Little girl with light brown and pink curly hair, laying down on her belly on a dentist table, watching YouTube on her tablet.

Our intentions are powerful, because it slowly shows us what we are capable of achieving. Instead of letting life happen to us (or letting the wind take your boat wherever it may), we are actively seeking out our coordinates... Seeking a destination. We are taking control of our lives and showing our power!

So what does this have to do with this blog? I'm a Special Needs Mom and mainly am here to talk about parenting through this Special Needs Life. Well, let me tell you what setting intentions has done for us... Because it's kind of amazing.

My youngest child has always had an incredible fear of dentists, doctors, and the like.
I mean, really bad. She's never really had a "bad" experience at any of them... But she's always been terrified! With that terror, comes aggressiveness, unwillingness, and screaming/crying. I've been bringing her to the dentist since before she was 1 (we're big dental health advocates) and they've never been able to easily see into her mouth for just a simple quick-check exam!

This year has been especially bad with her teeth. Unfortunately, there seems to be some common gene mutations that run in our family that cause dental issues. My oldest literally had her enamel fall off of her teeth when she was 15 months old! So we've been working to get the little one into the dentist for a bit. She had an appointment with her usual dentist in March, and they scheduled her for dental surgery in the hospital, because it's the only way to get any work done on her. We waited months for that appointment, and then a week prior, she ended up admitted to the hospital for some health issues. The dentist had to reschedule the appointment which, again, would leave us waiting for months. Not worth it. So, I decided to try for a new dentist. One I heard great things about. Can't hurt... Maybe it will go well, right?

WELL I set the appointment. For 8 days, I read dentist books to my little one. We watched fun dental visit videos on YouTube. We talked about it every day. We talked about what would happen, what the dentist says, what tools they use, and what they're for. I also talked to her about how she would react. We talked about what scared her about each tool, and talked her through the fear. I consistently, every day, reminded her that she was going to be brave and nice and let the dentist check her teeth.

I told her she had to do 4 things.
Little girl with curly brown and pink-ish hair, sitting in front of a tablet, playing Mario.
  • Sit in the chair
  • Let them see her teeth
  • Do the x-ray
  • Let them brush her teeth
We talked about this every day for 8 days. I even told her that if she did all 4 things, I would get her something very special. She was very excited at this prospect! So, the day arrived... Dentist day.

That morning, she was asleep when I put her in the car (very early appointment). When she woke up in the parking lot, she asked where we were. I said "Remember, we're going to be calm, right? We're at the dentist office."

She began to look anxious, and told me "I'm scared, mommy. I don't want to go inside." I told her "It's okay to be scared. Sometimes, brave means doing things we need to do, but are scared to do. And you are very brave. So we are going to go inside, and do those 4 things we talked about.".. I then asked her to repeat the 4 things, just as we had the past week. And she did.

Now, I will say, this dentist office does exceptionally well with special needs children. I honestly can't imagine ever going anywhere else, ever again. They are a bit of a drive for me, and are entirely worth going to!! They respected her, made proper accommodations, and completely worked around her comfort and her consent. I've never seen a dentist office treat children so properly.

HOWEVER that didn't mean that she wasn't going to be apprehensive or that we wouldn't have the same kind of experience we always did. So I was a bit anxious... Because it is rough for her, and therefore, rough on me. But, that is not how this visit went.

When I tell you I don't know who this kid was, I mean this kid was someone I had never seen in a doctor's or dentist's office before! She was excited, happy, and silly. Even in moments when she did become a little apprehensive, I reminded her our list.. those 4 things she was going to do today. I would go down the list, reminding her "Okay, we've done this 1 thing, now we have what other 3?"...and so on. It worked, guys. It freaking worked!

Little girl with curly brown and pink-ish hair and sapphire eyes, sitting at a high top table in Starbucks, eating a chocolate cake pop
At the end of this visit, my high needs/special needs/anxious/Autistic/SPD child finished her list! She did ALL of the things she was supposed to do. I set an intent and it was accomplished.

I cried, y'all. Legit. I got in my car and cried. This little girl was actually sad to leave the dentist office. She had such a wonderful experience and, while I don't discredit their amazing kindness and attitude, I genuinely believe a big part of our success was setting intentions and allowing her to accomplish them. She was proud. I was proud. It was a successful day with not one single tear.

When I say that setting intentions for our special needs kids is crucial, I mean it is dire. Like, how have I not been doing this for forever? I've sort of done it before, but was never adament about following through. Since that experience, I have been. I've been doing it with both of my kids and myself, and it has done wonders for calming and lessening the meltdowns!

Setting intentions also gives expectations that are attainable. In this chaotic, messed up life, it is hard on our Autistic/Special Needs kiddos to attain their calm. To be able to acheive the things they expect. But when we set intentions, we are opening the possibility to receive what they wish, rather than focusing on all the negative "what-ifs" that flood their minds and, ultimately, cause chaos.

Black and white up close photo of a special needs toddler boy who is playing with Pua, the pig from Moana.
Photo by Ashley Bickerstaff Photography

I'm not a parenting expert. Definitely not a special needs expert. But I'm absolutely trying to become a "My World Expert". If I can make our world better and more functional, then I'm gonna call that a win! But also, if I can help make any other person's world a bit better, I'll be happy. If this helps you at all, then I've done something good..

What is something you have learned about your Special Needs Life that makes your world a bit easier?? Share in the comments!

1 comment

  1. This is so good. Thank You for the encouragement and real life honesty. I'm feeling so much better about our upcoming dental trip.


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