Special Olympics Arkansas
From the #deltadentalARFoundation: For Arkansans with intellectual disabilities, the prospect of going to the dentist can be alarming.
For dentists, the prospect of treating patients with intellectual disabilities (ID) can be alarming.
“It’s the fear of the unknown,” explains Jennifer Avery, the wellness and coach advancement coordinator at Special Olympics Arkansas (SOAR).
However, this fear can quickly turn into confidence and calm with some coaching and training.
SOAR provides such training to 400 to 500 Arkansas healthcare and dental professionals each year. A #communitygrant from the Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation helps fund the initiative, which may be the only one of its kind in the state and is offered free of charge to participants.
Jennifer and SOAR health partners travel to provider offices (or meet them virtually) to educate them about the best practices for interacting with individuals with ID.
The training focuses on two main topics: communication skills and mindset.
“We emphasize to providers never to assume anything, but treat the patient with ID as thoroughly and objectively as anybody else,” Jennifer says.
Then her face lights up as she describes a lightbulb moment.
“When a provider calls me sometime after the training and tells me, ‘I just treated an individual with ID and realized this was no different from treating any other patient, and I have nothing to worry about,’ that’s a real breakthrough,” she says.
We love transformational changes like these. Bravo to the staff at SOAR and the dentists who participate in this inclusive training.
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