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April 2023 is Autism Acceptance Month

Sensory Boxes for Kids with Anxiety or Special Needs

Since April is Autism Acceptance Month (formerly Autism Awareness Month), we wanted to feature a Dentist sensory toy subscription box designed for children with autism spectrum disorder. Going to the dentist is a milestone event, but it can often be met with anxiety. This sensory subscription box (recently featured in DFWChild magazine and Shoutout DFW magazine) was created to prepare kids for the experience BEFORE it happens so things go more smoothly. When kids know what to expect ahead of time, they feel more calm, cool, and collected in the moment!

Proactive Regulatory Experience (PRE) BOX is a first of its kind sensory subscription box. It utilizes the Emotional Regulation Approach (ERA) to prepare children for new experiences that, in some cases, can lead to emotional dysregulation and subsequently, to problem behaviors while participating in new experiences.

RxSmile supports sensory boxes to help kids with dentist visits

Why is Sensory Play Important?

While sensory toy play is beneficial for all children, it’s particularly beneficial for those who are neurodivergent, because it:

  • builds nerve connections in the brain that enable your child to complete more complex learning tasks.
  • supports language development, cognitive growth, fine and gross motor skills, problem solving skills, and social interaction.
  • enhances memory and can help regulate kids who are anxious or frustrated.
  • allows kids to learn different sensory attributes, such as hot, cold, sticky, dry, wet, etc.
  • helps develop awareness of their senses through hands-on learning.

What makes PRE BOX different from other sensory subscription boxes?

PRE BOX sensory boxes are designed to help everyone! They are geared for toddlers and kids 3 years and up, and for kids with special needs like: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, ADHD/ADD, Down Syndrome, Auditory Processing Disorder, Language Delays, Speech Delays, Genetic Disorders, and more.

PRE BOX was developed and created by Rachel Schneider and Courtney Willis, who are both moms and pediatric speech-language pathologists that specialize in Communications Disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorders and Apraxia.

PRE BOX helps children add “tools” to their toolbox to enhance their communication skills while navigating through daily life as they learn and grow.

Each PRE BOX includes a PRE Story about the situation, visual cues for children to understand what will happen, tips for parents on how to talk to and prepare their kids, plus creative ideas to play with what’s included in the box.

PRE BOX is designed to increase emotional regulation in the following ways:

  • To provide children with strategies and supports to enhance their social participation and engagement in a new experience.
  • To give children and adults strategies and tools to lessen the intensity, duration, and frequency of problem behaviors in a new experience.
RxSmile has the Dentist PRE BOX sensory kit in our office for young kids

The Dentist sensory box includes 2 Crazy Aarons Thinking Putty, pretend dentist tools, x-ray, tooth brush, timer, squishy, sunglasses, and more!

“In an ERA, most problem behaviors are viewed as outcomes of a dysregulated emotional/physiological state. For example, disruptive behavioral patterns (such as screaming or repeated questioning); harmful behavior (such as kicking or biting); or attempts to disengage (such as shutdown and bolting) are considered the individual’s response to dysregulation.

The overarching goals of an ERA are to support an individual’s emotional well-being to maximize availability for active engagement and learning; expand emotional regulatory abilities; and foster the development of secure, trusting relationships. Since the focus is not simply on reducing problem behavior, a plan is implemented prior to the occurrence of problem behavior”

(Prizant, 2011)

Tips for Visiting the Dentist

Waiting is the hardest thing to do (for adults and kids alike)! Dr. Greenberg purchased the PRE BOX Dentist sensory kit for the RxSmile Orthodontics office so younger kids can play while waiting for their older siblings to get done with their orthodontic treatment. While we’re not a dentist office, we still want to expose kids to the idea that having their teeth looked at, and worked on, can be a rewarding experience! We highly recommend the PRE BOX Dentist sensory kit, but if you don’t have one yet, here’s some easy tips any parent can try to make dental visits more stress-free:

  • bring a squishy to squeeze to help decrease feelings of anxiety.
  • explain what happens at the dentist using a visual schedule so they know what to expect.
  • wear sunglasses to block out the harsh lights while sitting in the dentist chair.

Got questions?

Parents, before booking any appointment, especially for younger kids, we recommend calling ahead to get your questions answered first! When you feel comfortable with your decision to bring your child in, ask if you can set up a time prior to the appointment to take a tour of the office.

If you are interested in starting orthodontic treatment, contact our office for a Complimentary Consultation. We’ll be happy to answer any questions regarding treatment, insurance and financing options. Call (972) 335-1300 Monday through Thursday, or submit an online appointment request and we will respond within one business day.

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