A visit to the dentist can be a cause of great stress and anxiety for many people. It can take years for someone to get comfortable enough to come into the treatment room, but Robyn believes that with patience and kindness, most people can get there.
Mr Robyn Hughes has been a dentist for many years, and through his experience has lots of techniques in place to help calm his patients down and make them as relaxed as possible.
For Robyn, a successful visit is one where the patient is comfortable – whether that means carrying out the check-up in the car park, in the waiting room, or even on the stairs! With patience and flexibility, he focuses on the patient and their comfort above anything else.
Many autistic people face additional social, sensory, and communication barriers which can make a visit to the dentist even more of a challenge. It can take a lot of preparation and work before they feel ready to make the first visit.
While he does have some knowledge about autism, he isn’t an expert – but that hasn’t stopped him from making a big difference to Archie and his mum Rebecca.
As with anyone else, he extends the same patience, kindness and understanding to Archie, working with him to make his experience a happy one. Instead of making assumptions, he takes the time to listen to Archie without any judgement, and doesn’t treat him any differently to his neuro-typical siblings.
His patient-centred strategy means listening to the specific needs and preferences of each individual and making any necessary adjustments to make their experience easier. He likes to think long-term and understand what makes them calm, and what he can do to make this happen.
This could even mean spreading the treatment over several visits – taking it one step at a time until the patient is ready to be examined.
Making it to the visit is the first step to progress – then with time, it gets easier as the patient becomes more comfortable with the environment, eventually making it to the treatment. He makes sure not to rush anyone, allowing plenty of time for patients to adjust at their own pace.
This simple yet effective approach has had a strong impact on both Archie and Rebecca – the act of being kind, listening, and understanding, transformed an anxious experience into a positive one.
Thanks to his compassionate approach, Archie is able to now visit the dentist and Rebecca feels so much more at ease.
It shows how a little bit of kindness and thought can go a long way, building a relationship of trust and understanding.