Preparing Your Child to Visit the Doctor or Dentist
Therapies and Resources for Children with Autism & Families
Many children have a negative reaction toward going to the doctor or dentist for a routine checkup. They are anxious about a new environment and an unfamiliar person examining them in close proximity, and scared of the unknown of what will happen during the visit. For a child with special needs, these experiences can be even more stressful—for both the child and the parents. Help your child have a positive experience by following these tips:
- Inform your doctor or dentist’s office about your child’s special needs in advance. If you explain how your child is likely to react during the appointment, the staff may offer you some accommodations or modifications. For example, you might ask whether your child can visit the office once or twice before the actual appointment to practice sitting in the dental chair or seeing the examination room. You may also ask if there are comfort items, such as headphones or an electronic tablet, you could bring to the appointment to make your child more at ease.
- Talk to your child about the people they will meet during their visit. Explain to your child the people he or she will meet, from the receptionist in the waiting area, to a nurse or dental hygienist, then a doctor or dentist. You can role play some conversations, such as checking into the appointment or meeting the doctor or dentist.
- Praise your child for cooperation during the visit. Encourage and praise your child throughout the visit when he or she does things as asked, such as sitting still, following instructions such as opening his or her mouth for the dentist, and so on. Throughout the appointment, you can also continue to reassure your child and explain each portion of the appointment as it happens.
If you need guidance or advice on helping your child through doctor’s visits, contact the caring team at Peak Potential Therapy. We are here to help.