Tips to prepare your special needs child for doctor’s visit
Going to the doctor’s office or hospital can be an unpleasant experience for anyone, it can be especially traumatic for children with special needs. Here are some tips to make sure the visit goes smoothly for everyone involved.
- Use Social Stories
Social Stories are a concept designed to improve the social skills of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They are an excellent way to teach special needs children about hospital visits and help alleviate anxiety caused by the unknown. You can find several social story apps that enable you to create stories for your child that can be easily customized to their cognitive levels. You can take pictures of the actual hospital or doctor’s office and include them in your story. Ask the hospital staff in advance if they would be willing to accommodate your request. You may ask them to take real photos of the x-ray machines and other equipment. Using real photos can help the child understand what to expect during the visit.
- Talk about pain
Familiarize your child about different kinds of pain. It can help them understand more about it and can be an invaluable tool in any setting or situation. Talk about it when they get bumps and bruises, or experience painful stomachache to help them understand how pain works. This can be useful when they want to express themselves when they get hurt or fall sick, and also when they go for medical treatments and injections.
- Prepare for Blood Work
Taking blood samples of children with special needs can be a task in itself. Talk to the doctor in advance and ask them the best way to prepare your child for an upcoming blood work. Read up on resources online which guide parents on getting ready for this important part of visit to the doctor.
- Always talk Positively
Make sure you always speak about doctors and hospitals in a favorable way, and not just around the time of the visit. Discuss how they make people feel better and cure illnesses. This will help special needs children be more comfortable with the idea of visiting the doctor.
- Indulge in Role Play
Use toys as a teaching tool. A toy version of doctor’s kit can be used to play “doctor” or “hospital” with your child. Pretend to listen to the child’s heart and have them listen to yours. You can also practice pretend x-ray by lying down still for 10 seconds. Your child’s favorite toy can be used to play the role of a patient. You can also take the toy during your visit to the doctor in order to keep him engaged or distract him during moments of pain or discomfort. While preparing your special needs child for doctor’s visit, avoid the temptation to lie. Don’t tell them that a needle won’t hurt when you know it will. Lying will only cause them to lose trust in you and make it more difficult to prepare them for future difficulties that may arise. Just be patient and talk them through the process to make things easier for both of you.