Planning a Doctor Visit for Your Child with Special Needs

Amy Long Carrera, MS, RD, CNSC, CWCMS
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
04/18/16  10:26 AM PST
child with special needs

Taking your child with special needs to a doctor’s appointment can be stressful to both you and your child. Planning ahead will help the visit go more smoothly.

Planning a Doctor Visit for Your Child with Special Needs

Choose a doctor or other healthcare professional that specializes in your child’s condition. Complex health care needs related to cerebral palsy, developmental disabilities, autism and other conditions require special attention from a doctor who is trained to treat them.

Schedule the appointment for a day and time when the doctor’s office is less crowded. This may help prevent some anxiety for both of you. The office staff should be able to tell you the best time for your visit.

Make a list of questions you have about your child. Any concern you have is important, no matter how trivial it may seem! Prioritize your questions, so you can be sure to get answers to the most important questions before the visit ends.

Sample questions to ask:

  • What medical emergency(s) is my child at risk of?
  • What should I do and who should I call in case it happens?
  • What other health care professionals should my child be seeing?
  • What resources and support are available to me and my child?
  • When should I schedule our next visit?
  • How do I get in touch with the doctor or nurse if I have more questions?

Bring a favorite toy or book to keep your child busy and calm. Play a game or use an app with your child while you are waiting for the doctor.

Take another adult to the appointment with you. Someone who is familiar with your family can not only provide moral support but help you remember key points from the visit.

Record the visit with your cell phone or other device. As the parent or primary caregiver for your child with special needs, it may be difficult for you to remember details or instructions. You might not have time to write everything down. The recording will come in handy for not only you but others who help care for your child.

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