Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Combating Office Visit Fatigue

05/03/2017 | Published by: Shailen Singh

My son has been going to doctor appointments routinely since he was about 3 months old, and now that he’s 4 years old, he’s tired of them. The second that we step into a doctor’s office, he shuts down. He doesn’t want to be there and knows that fussing won’t get him anywhere, so he simply shuts down and doesn’t respond. 

We are stuck telling his doctor every wonderful thing he’s doing in therapy and at home … but my son? Totally checked out. 

The crazy part about it is that the second we leave, he’s back to his normal self. 

We had one appointment where my son was in a good mood, and for a second, totally forgot that he was going to the doctor. We walked in and he immediately started playing with toys and crawling around the room and being himself! The doctor walked in and was almost shocked at the level of activity. Finally, he was seeing what we saw and didn’t have to take our word for it. 

That appointment was wonderful. We talked about mobility, potential—all sorts of stuff. It was as if the doctor was meeting our son for the very first time.

So that’s when I realized that how my son presents himself at appointments can make all the difference in the world in how he’s treated. It’s important for me to make sure he’s on his game when we go in, or at least that I’m representing him well in every appointment. I don’t know if your kids are the same way, but here’s what we do:

  1. Video everything - and I mean everything. Any time my son does something new in therapy or something that makes us smile, we immediately video it and save it in a folder marked “doctor” on our phone. We then make sure to include those videos in our conversations with our doctors to show them that, yes, he can do certain things. These videos have been extremely helpful in talking to doctors, therapists, and school officials.
  2. Routines are part of the reason my son gets into his doctor mode is that the appointment is a break from his routine. Typically, his doctor appointments coincided with a nap or resulted in him missing out on things he’s used to doing. So now we respect the building blocks of his routine. We don’t schedule appointments during nap times; we schedule them during therapy times because he knows he’s going to go somewhere then.
  3. Don’t hesitate to ask your therapist for a copy of their notes on your child’s progression prior to going to an appointment. Any bit of documentation helps in painting an accurate and vivid picture of your child’s abilities and rarely do doctors and therapists share information regularly. 
  4. Bring familiarity. Don’t rely on the toys the doctor’s office has. Bring toys, games, items that you know your kid is familiar with and likes to play with. Do everything you can to create a comfortable environment for your child and help ease any nerves they might be feeling.

I’m hopeful that our son will get to a point that he’s comfortable showing his full self in front of doctors. But in the meantime, we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure that he’s got what he needs to feel comfortable. 

There are some good tips and helpful information in the How to Talk to Your Doctor section of this website.

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