I never felt like I had a “special needs” kid, until today.



We look normal, and we are. Did you know that 3 of our 4 kids have some sort of “special need”? Geesh. I wonder how many kids out there don’t.


There have been times where I had to mentally decide if my child fit into the ‘special needs’ category. There have been other times when people have said something about one or more of my children having special needs.

I’ve always thought, “Eh, not really.”

Between the four of them we have one diagnosed peanut allergy, one probable peanut allergy, one diagnosed ADD, one possible ADD, and one diagnosed with epilepsy.

But special needs? No way. Those aren’t special needs. Those are merely hurdles, road bumps, qualities, if you will. Don’t call us special. To modify the show tune, “Anything you can do, we can do better. We can do anything better than you. Yes, we can!”

Lol. Kidding. I don’t think we can do it better, but I certainly don’t think a few allergies and seizures should get in the way of any good fun.

Never mind that their ‘special needs’ make up the main reasons, among many, that we are home schooling..

So this was supposed to be the week that Caleb got his teeth fixed from the big scooter accident. We have spent 3 mornings in a row at the dentist office. If all had gone as planned, he could have been 2 teeth down and 1 to go today. Instead, we are a big, fat 0 down, 3 to go. And just writing that brings back that whole sick feeling in my stomach, and that burn in my eyes, that is making this day really hard.

Caleb and his school work.

Caleb, posing with the Christmas Olaf scene that he drew, back when his teeth were still intact.


On Monday, we had our consultation with “The Tooth Hero.” This was the dentist that met us two Sunday nights ago, at 7pm, when Caleb knocked his mouth so hard, in a scooter meets sidewalk incident, that he broke three permanent teeth. He’s seven. Why must my children collect permanent teeth so early???

All went super well on Monday, so on Tuesday we headed in for the great rebuilding of tooth #1. Caleb wasn’t worried at all. He trusted his tooth hero completely. He laid down in the dental chair, donned the sunglasses, and the dentist numbed up his mouth. All was well. Unfortunately, some part of this “tasted sour”, and Caleb started to PANIC. They tried to suck his mouth out with that tiny sucker that dentists use, and Caleb wouldn’t let them do it. He was suddenly scared of everything and uncooperative. He just sat there with his numb mouth, shaking his head, and saying, “Aaaaa! No, no!”  He didn’t shout, but you could definitely hear panic in his voice.

Show stopper. The dentist called me in and let me know that he’d have to refer Caleb to a pediatric dentist, who could sedate Caleb, to calm him down so they could work on his mouth.

Okay. I was disappointed, but I understood. I felt fully confident that a pediatric dentist could easily work with him, and we’d be fine.

We made the appointment right away. Today, for the third morning in a row, we headed out, all four boys and me. (On Tuesday, I got smart and hired a babysitter. Phew!)

By the way, I’ve also been running a fever all week. I seem to have an extremely mild chest cold. Don’t worry. Everyone else is fine, but this just adds to my stress level.. As we all know, parents don’t get sick days.

We managed to find the new dentist and were pretty much on time. Caleb, riding in the backseat, asked, “Do you know how to get there, Mom, because I’ve never been to this place?”  Ha! None of my children trust my navigation. Caleb was a big help on Monday, in finding the first dentist office!

So there we were, ready for our pediatric dental appointment. I was very thorough in Caleb’s dental/medical history. This guy can handle it, surely, right?


He tried. He had Caleb go to the back, he put ear muffs on Caleb, to keep the noise down, and then he pulled out his tools, to see if he could get Caleb more comfortable with the loud tools.

Caleb didn’t want them anywhere near him. He was uncooperative again. I was crushed. Why was I crushed? Because they had informed me that if the earmuffs didn’t help, this procedure will have to be done in the hospital. That means I have to take Caleb to his PCM, “Primary Care Manager”, and it’s kind of tough to get an appointment. The PCM has to put in a request for the teeth to be fixed in the hospital and deem it “medically necessary”. Then she also has to provide the hospital with a detailed list of Caleb’s medical history. Right. Because after living in 5 different cities in 7 years, and seeing 4 different neurologists, that’s super easy to come by….

I’ve been living in fear of all ‘appointments’ since I started home schooling. We don’t have any grandparents or babysitters. Thankfully, I did find a great babysitter this week. She can even drive!

Why do we have to jump through all of these medical hoops? Because Caleb has epilepsy, and he’s not handling this new experience well. If he could just be a little braver, we’d be fine. If he weren’t an epilepsy patient, they could sedate him in the office. As a seizure patient, they are hesitant to work on him.

Sigh. So today is the very first day that I am seeing Caleb as ‘special needs,’ and I want to cry. Just the idea of all of this paper work and medical offices and appointments, all when I’m supposed to be at home from 9 to 2 everyday, educating 4 children, makes me want to throw up my hands. But I can’t throw up my hands! Poor Caleb has a crooked fang for a front tooth right now.

Back to today’s dental appointment: I was good on the outside. I didn’t put up a fuss or whine or anything. Instead, I took Caleb aside, and told him that if he didn’t cooperate with the doctor and just deal with the loud noises, he was going to find himself in the hospital, making this a lot more hassle. I was just giving it to him straight. I told him that if he could go back in there and get it together, I would buy him a new video game.

Yes, I resorted to *rewards*.  Please, Caleb, oh, pleaseeeeeeeee.

He made an effort. He went back in and got so comfortable with the sucker thing, he stuck the whole instrument in his mouth, but when the doc whipped out the other-whatever-it-is, more panic.


Caleb was sedated at our old dental office for a couple of fillings last year. If only we were still in Virginia! They were so accommodating!! As if I didn’t have enough reasons to miss Virginia…

We miss you NoVA!!!!

We miss you NoVA!!!!

Why don’t I normally consider any of my children ‘special needs kids’? The thing is that I grew up with a sister who was truly special needs. I know that drill well, and it is HARD. My sister cannot talk, walk, play, or think past the level of John David. She is profoundly retarded. She is a sweet, sweet, loving, smiling soul. She mostly just sits and rocks. I shared a room with her from the time I was born until the day I got married, minus the time I spent in a college dorm room. We love our Amanda. She is truly ‘special needs’. She could never do the things we did. I saw what my parents went through to provide a good life for her. There was no freedom for anyone. Someone always had to be home with Amanda. It was truly difficult to take her places because she yelled out at random, and she had a wheelchair. There was always a shocking number of places with no wheelchair ramps. Also, people stared a lot.  It was a challenge, ya’ll!!

Amanda and me

Amanda and me, ~1986 She’s adorable, isn’t she?


And the truth is I’ve lived in fear of it happening to me. I know that I’m not the sweet soul that my mother is. How could anyone ever handle all that she handled? I breathed huge sighs of relief at each prenatal ultrasound, as my babies were pronounced healthy.

My kids are nothing like my beautiful sister, so I just have a hard time with anyone calling them ‘special needs,’ or thinking they can’t fix their teeth because of a well controlled seizure disorder.  I think, “Nah, he’s fine. My kids are fine.”

They ARE fine. I guess it’s time I realize that special needs is not a big, scary word. So what if they have special needs? That is how God made them.

I will just have to broaden my definition of that phrase. I know it scares people. I always roll my eyes and think they are overreacting, but the truth is that very few people have had the experiences that my family has had. I should be more understanding of that.

My biggest concern is that I could jump through all of these (what I consider unnecessary) hoops to have Caleb’s teeth fixed at this hospital, and once it’s done, the cap could fall off in two months, and we’ll be right back where we started from.

It’s just one of those situations that does not have an easy answer. I think I could train Caleb to chill about the dental experience. I just don’t know if they will be willing to give it another go. You know? There’s this whole stigma attached to him now, and that just bothers me.

Feel free to chime in with any good suggestions. I do realize I had promised a happy post today, about Caleb’s new sport and such. Tomorrow! Check back tomorrow! This was a rough day, but good things have been happening too. Thank Heavens!


  • This really has been a rough day for you April. I am sincerely sorry. I do feel the anxiety your precious Caleb must have.
    My 1st visit with the dentist was when I was around 6 or 7. I guess I was not too cooperative, and the dentist slapped me across the face, to make me “obey”. It was several years before my mom ever got me to a dentist again. I had a whack of cavities by then, and the dentist (a different one) used gas to sedate me, so he could work on me.
    I am getting better, but after all these years, am anxious going to the dentist.

  • Donna

    Sorry so much went wrong today, but you know, I side with Caleb! They have to give me gas to even clean my teeth! I am a total wimp! Without the gas, I can work myself into quite a panic. The idea of being knocked out and getting all teeth fixed at the sme time does not sound so bad to me. I just hope you can get it approved.
    So glad you were able to find a sitter! That is big!
    You know you are all in our prayers every day.

  • Jennings

    You are the same sweet soul your mama is:) That’s how you carry all the obstacles you face with such grace and optimism. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again in case you haven’t heard it in a while…you are a hero in my book!

  • McMom

    I can totally sympathize with you and with Caleb! I would definitely think being knocked out is the way to go. I can’t imagine the nightmare medical records must be for you to compile. Praying for y’all.

  • My wife used to have this problem wanting to get her teeth fixed, and she was always great right up until her mouth was frozen, then it was no go, the dentist could no longer get near her. It was three dentists later that it was discovered she was allergic to the Novocaine, and her panic attacks were being brought on my the act of freezing her mouth. The new dentist just changed the way he froze her mouth and voila, everything was done, and no more panic attacks. I know it seems like a no-brainer, but it did take three dentists to figure it out, it might be worth mentioning to Caleb’s dentist just in case it was overlooked. Best of luck with everything.

  • queenmommyjen

    Oh April I am so sorry. You have had a very challenging week! I worked at a peds dentist for years and perhaps he just needs complete sedation to do the work? They do this for all kinds of kids, because some just don’t do well with treatment. Hugs my sweet friend.

  • Beautifully written and touching. thank you.

  • Oh sweet Mama, hang in there. I can tell that your attitude about all this is so great!! Is it possible to see another pediatric dentist before you are forced to take the hospital route? Perhaps even have Daddy take him? Our children (some of them anyway) seem to do so much better with Daddy in these kinds of situations. We will be praying for you guys!! Keep us updated!! Oh and your sister is just precious!! I always thought the boys favored Alan but I think a couple of them look like you girls, for sure. 🙂

    • We have considered that (seeing another doc), and we might do so. It’s a super small city that we live in, so we’d have to make a broader search. I agree about the Daddy thing. In Virginia, Alan did the dental appointments. Somehow it got passed back to me..

  • First I didn’t know what you mean with “special needs”, but now I understand. I am with you and your family and wish you all the best.

  • Sorry to hear about your bad day. I used to work at a hospital and we had tons of people (mostly adults) that would need something to calm them during a dental procedure. I think it is very common to have anxiety about going to the dentist. Some people can’t even make it through a cleaning without something to calm them. I hope things get figured out and Caleb gets his teeth fixed soon 🙂 Gathering medical records can be very frustrating. I know how upsetting it can be when someone treats your child differently than they would other children.

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