Making Doctor Visits Easier for Kids with Autism
Medical appointments, even routine visits, can be stressful for children and adults, and especially challenging for autistic kids. Since visits to the doctor are something we all do at one time or another, here are some tips to make the experience easier for your child:
- Request the first appointment of the day or the time slot right after the office lunch break. This will minimize wait time. If this is not possible, call ahead on the day of the appointment and ask if the doctor is on schedule and if not, when you should plan to come in with your child.
- Get a picture book from the library or create your own social story so your child knows what to expect upon arrival to the doctor’s office and during the visit. If possible, ask the office staff if you can do a ‘practice run’ and bring your child to the office and look at the exam room if they haven’t seen it yet.
- Role-play the visit with your child using a toy medical bag with equipment such as a toy stethoscope and otoscope. Let your child use the equipment on you and/or on stuffed toys.
- Bring a few toys, coloring books, or activity books to keep your child busy while waiting to see the doctor.
- If your child is resistant to any procedures, ask the doctor if you can assist or if there can be modifications. For example, some autistic children don’t want to lie down during an exam and prefer standing instead.
- If your child becomes upset or agitated, take a break and determine with the doctor what the priorities are for the visit, and whether anything can wait until another time.
- Reward positive behavior. The goal is to make the experience as stress-free as possible and reinforce your child’s cooperation.
Your child’s therapist may have recommendations on preparing for a medical appointment also. Every child is different, and strategies that work for one may not work for another.
Harsha Autism Centers provide ongoing care for children, adolescents, and young adults (ages 2-22) with autism to improve the quality of their lives. If you would like learn more about how Harsha Autism Centers can help please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (812) 233-8833.