Everyone has a desire to give the best care to their children, and one way to ensure you succeed in your desires is finding the right doctor who is not only an expert on the subject but the one who looks at your loved one with compassion.
The subject gains more momentum when the patient is a young child with special needs. The child may require a couple of visits every month and more often than not needs increased medical attention.
Amy Kelly, a parent, says, “I have a daughter who is autistic and often requires multiple doctor visits and has visited more than a dozen doctors in her 15 years of life.”
Kelly further adds, “My daughter was diagnosed with autism at an early age, long before she was 2 years old.”
She recalls that when her daughter was being diagnosed on the spectrum, the first thing that crossed her mind was to find a good doctor who could be her medical partner down the road. However, the mother says she stumbled upon the fact that for successful medical attention, there is a need to partner with your child’s doctor.
The mother shares her experience and highlights four useful tips that any parent can use to foster a long and positive relationship with the youngster’s doctor.
The mother says preparation is the most important key when dealing with your child’s doctor, especially the first visit.
The mother recalls, “When we find out our child has special needs, we often end up with many worries and issues and it can sometimes be overwhelming to explain to other people in a short amount of time.”
However, says the mother, preparing your list of questions and concerns can be imperative when you visit your doctor.
Kelly says, “I have always made sure to keep the folder up to date with my child, Annie’s, medical information. The folder contains every piece of information regarding her test results or any recommendations that have been given by her doctors.”
The mother further says, “I ensure a sticky pad is always ready in the folder to make a note of any timely advice or recommendations given by her doctors.”
Kelly says she carries the folder whenever her child has an appointment with the doctor. The mother says that having information readily available makes her confident with addressing any medical concerns her child might face.
The file further helps her prepare specific questions that she intends to ask a particular doctor.
It pays to know the staff, not just the doctor
The mother says physician assistants, administrators and the nurses who offer assistance to the doctor are equally important.
The mother advises to take some time out to know and understand the other staff of the clinic and get them acquainted with your families. Kelly believes this can result in quality delivery of the service.
Kelly says, “I have made a point in my diary to have a Christmas card sent to the doctor’s office every year along with a personal note from the family.” The mother further adds, “At times, I drop into their clinic with a basket full of fruits to show my appreciation for their efforts.”
Kelly believes all these little things go a long way in ensuring quality appointments for her child.
Kelly says, “From a very young age, Annie knew when we were going to visit the doctor.” She further recalls, “The moment we stepped out of the house, Annie used to start crying and throw tantrums when we would turn onto the street.”
The child’s anxieties quickly took a toll on her mother and Kelly too started worrying whenever the child had an appointment with the doctor.
Kelly says, “I discussed these concerns with the doctor. We quickly teamed up and started working out a unique solution to help the child’s anxiety disappear.”
“To start with, we had Annie go in and sit in the waiting room. The doctor would pop into the waiting room and greet Annie with a pleasant gift. Over time, our child lets her fears disappear and she now enjoys having a visit to the doctor.”
If you are not sure about something, speak up!
A partnership involves both parties; the parent and the doctor are free to ask and discuss anything. This further helps in ensuring the right decisions are made for the child.
Kelly says, speaking up could also mean giving complete and truthful answers to the questions or concerns highlighted by the doctor.
It also helps you to feel comfortable while you return questions to your doctor. These sorts of open collaborations between the caregivers and the doctors result in making appropriate decisions together without having the fears of being judged.
The mother says, “Having a healthy relationship with the pediatrician or the doctor of your child helps ensure your children get the timely, informed, comprehensive and attentive care that they rightfully deserve.”
By investing your time in strengthening the doctor-caregiver relationship, you can ensure your child gets ready to have a fruitful life.
Being a doctor requires a greater level of patience in comparison to other specialties. At times, there seems to be a test of patience when the patient involved has special needs.
The anxiety levels of children with special needs are not the same as their peers. Due to this, the child ends up behaving differently the moment he/she steps into the office.
One way to work around this is to provide a step-by-step understanding of the working culture of the office and what actually happens when their appointment comes. As you slowly explain, the child starts getting comfortable.
Kelly says, “I believe the doctors too are responsible in reducing the stress levels of the children. They need to gain the trust of a child the moment he/she enters their office during appointment time.”
The mother further says, “The doctors need to treat children as their friends and not as their doctor.”
The mother has highlighted four additional key points while you are looking to find treatment for your child with special needs.
Kelly says although you might think this is obvious in any doctor’s profession, you need to look for signs that the doctor is actively listening.
Further, the mother advises other parents to look out for the doctor if he/she schedules good amounts of time to trigger a conversation with the child and conduct various examinations on the child as needed.
Kelly says, “It is equally important to see if the doctor asks questions to have things clarified, at least during your first visit, while carefully weighing your responses.”
Do you see your doctor asking and involving you along with your child about the experiences and your daily routines to gauge the level of the child’s functioning and cognition to address specific issues?
An autism diagnosis is not like other diagnoses.
The mother warns, saying, “If you see your doctor is not asking or seeking obvious answers, the doctor might never be able to fully understand you.”
Ensure the doctor addresses your child directly even from a young age in an appropriate manner. The baby talk should be avoided at all times.
Kelly says, if you find your child being hyperactive, it is in the best interest of the child to ensure the doctor act as if they are sitting in a quiet and appropriate manner.
Doctors should remain calm and warm up to your child before attempting or starting any physical examination.
Kelly further adds, “These steps might often be unsuccessful during the initial steps. However, when the right approach is focused on communication and being transparent, you will reach optimal success.”
Ensure the doctor is extremely accommodative to the special needs of your child on the autism spectrum. This will ensure the show runs in the right order from filling out forms to ensuring the correct appointment times and making phone calls to other specialists in the field.
When these go smoothly, children believe they are a part of a great office, which means the world to them and their families irrespective of the diagnosis.
Every child with unique needs has a different set of fears and experiences that mould them into who they are. It also moulds their reactions to timely checkups.
“Physicians need to ensure and strive to provide the best care to each and every patient, and continue to assess the patient every time he/she has an appointment,” explains Kelly.
Kelly signs off saying, “Doctors with an open mind along with being openly communicative can help in providing the best care for our children and our families.”