Tips for Taking Your Child to the Doctors
A visit to a doctor’s office, or for that matter to any other health professional, may be difficult for a child who has autism. Going to a doctor would in turn mean changes in the child’s routine schedules, experiencing new and unknown situations, strange people and uncommon procedures. All these may add up to a scary experience for your child. However, if you do some preparation beforehand, a visit to the doctor’s office can be a much more pleasant experience for not only your child but also for you.
Let us look at some of the easy yet useful tips that can be of a great help for taking your child to a physician.
- Inform the schedulers: You should communicate to the scheduler or doctor’s office that your child has autism.
- Time of appointment: Make sure that you are either scheduling the first appointment or the last appointment of the day so that your child does not have to wait in the waiting room for a long time.
- Prime your child: Speak to your child about the upcoming visit to the doctor, much in advance so that your child is not taken by surprise. This may come in the form of a social story reviewing what your child can expect during their visit, how they may feel, and what they can do while they are there.
- Visual Schedule: You may create a visual schedule outlining each step of the visit to the doctor. For instance, the schedule may show the doctor’s office, the waiting room, the doctor’s room, and then the car. You can even ask the doctor for specific information on what the check up will look like and individualized the schedule even more to show each step of the check up.
- Rehearsing the visit: Make sure that you are rehearsing the upcoming visit to a doctor with your child. Repeat it for many times and across several days so that your child becomes familiar with the routine.
- Practice “mock” medical procedures: Practicing some mock medical procedures in your house is a great idea. A toy doctor’s kit for instance is an excellent tool that can be used for a role play with your child before visiting the doctor. This would be an ideal time to introduce the visual schedule.
- Make your child feel secure: You can make your child secure and comfortable by bringing their favorite toys or familiar activities so that he or she can use them in the waiting area.
- Positive reinforcement: Identify a special reinforcer that you child can access after the doctor’s visit. Providing a reinforcer contingent upon the completion of the visit will increase the likelihood of the next visit being successful.