Autism is a neurological disorder that truly impacts every aspect of a person’s and a family’s life. One of the most difficult tasks to accomplish with a child who has Autism is visiting a doctor’s office. A doctor’s visit is challenging because it is an environment that the child visit’s infrequently, it is filled with audio and visual stimuli and uncontrolled activity. This can make the trip stressful for the child to handle and may result in outbursts and anxiety attacks. However, there are ways to make doctor’s visits easier on your child and on you.
To reduce the amount of stress and stimuli overload that a child has to face, you need to plan a head for the doctor’s visit. Let your child’s pediatrician know that your child is autistic and that they will need to be scheduled when the office is not busy, and that your child will be able to get into an examination room as quickly as possible after you first arrive. This will accomplish two things. First it will limit the amount of time spent in a hectic environment, and secondly it will help to alleviate sensory overload as soon as possible.
Story Mapping the Visit
Another strategy that you can use to familiarize your child with the prospects of visiting the doctor is to use story mapping activities. These activities basically walk your child through the process of visiting the doctors office. You can use photographs from the clinic, the elevator and the doctor’s office to help prepare your child for what they will see and do on that day. This technique has been very successful when utilized consistently for introducing kids with Autism to new activities and outings.
Bring a Safety Item With You
If your child has a fidget toy or a safety item that you can bring with you on your trip things will go a lot better. However, do not offer the item until you are either in the building or in the doctor’s office. This will positively reinforce the experience of being at the doctor’s office.
Bring a Friend
If your child has a friend, sibling, babysitter, or family member that they enjoy being around, then have that person come with you. This will provide your child with another support person to lean on during your visit.
Visit the Clinic Frequently
Whether of not you need to go to the doctor’s office a lot or infrequently, frequent trips to the clinic can be a great way to desensitize your child to the building. You don’t have to have an appointment for a check up. Simply go to the clinic, walk into the building, go to the doctor’s office and say hello to the receptionist. You may even want to work with your doctor to provide your child with a reward for coming in each time. Once they have been habituated to this experience you can reduce the number of times you visit each year without a real purpose for going there.