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Dental Care - Dental Pre-Surgery Testimonial

Michelle Sheller - Finding a Haven for Help with Services:


Michelle “Shelley” Sheller, age 26, loves to dance to the classics. James Brown, Motown, Michael Jackson, Beyoncé and the Jonas Brothers are among her favorites.  She also likes coming to Practice Without Pressure.


That is no small feat. She lives two hours away in Rockville, MD with her parents, Lynne and Michael Sheller. But that drive is nothing compared to the life journey that brought Shelley to PWP.

Shelley has pervasive developmental disorder, a form of palsy and a seizure disorder.  “At four months, her seizures began. They would occur every two-to-three minutes and would last 72 hours,” Mr. Sheller said.

“Doctors never expected Shelley to swallow or speak or see, or to live past age two,” her mother said.  She beat the odds, but it was hard.

For the first three years of her life, she spent six out of every 12 months at the Children’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. During this trying time, Mrs. Sheller wondered how Shelley could have so many problems, when their older daughter had none. A voice told her, “She is all children.”

She is also resilient. “Michelle is the only child on that ward who survived,” Mr. Sheller said. To Mrs. Sheller, who stayed with her at the hospital, “she is a miracle story for us.”  And with the strength and advocacy of her parents, she has thrived.

But once Shelley aged out of Children’s Hospital, the Shellers had a hard time finding a dentist who would treat her. “We found a dentist that would sedate her, but he stopped taking her insurance.  So we paid him out of pocket and he still wouldn’t take her back,” Mrs. Sheller said.


Shelley’s confidence fell and without the routine exams, she wanted no part of any dentist.  Determined to find a way around this issue, Mrs. Sheller took the advice of a colleague and looked up the Autism Speaks website.  There she saw a link for Practice Without Pressure.


“The first time she came, I didn’t think we’d get her out of the car,” Mrs. Sheller said. “But the people at PWP came out to the car and she came inside.


“We had talked to them in advance about Shelley.  To make her comfortable, they played her favorite music and talked about characters she likes. During one practice session, one of the staff even wore a Velma wig and glasses from Scooby Doo just to please Shelley, “ Mrs. Sheller said.


Shelley returned the favor by giving staff nicknames.  Practice specialist Brian Bashkow became “Jonas Brothers” until she memorized his name. Jessica became “Charlie Brown.”


“We couldn’t believe after just a few sessions using the practice cards, she got into the dental chair. And the first time, she got out of the car and headed into the Center all by herself, we were amazed,” Mrs. Sheller said.


To take care of Shelley’s immediate needs, PWP scheduled Shelley for oral surgery at the Wilmington campus of Christiana Care Health System.   “We wanted the surgery at a hospital because of her seizure disorder,” Mrs. Sheller said.


Shelley handled the walk-through and the surgery well.  PWP Lead Practice Specialist Danielle Saienni and her parents were there.  “She was cool with it,” her mom said.


Shelley recently came back to Practice Without Pressure for a cleaning practice.  Her dad sat in the waiting room, at her request. “When she came out, they told me she was done, not with a practice, but with the actual cleaning.  It was the first time she had ever had a cleaning without sedation,” Mr. Sheller said. They were Dancing in the Street all the way home.











Practice Without Pressure Corporate
P.O. Box 829
Bear, DE 19701

(302) 419-8131