Medical Appointments and ASD

Many medical conditions are more common in children with autism. As such, children on the autism spectrum require more visits and more tests, which can prove quite challenging for families and medical providers alike. Below are some tips and strategies to help save everyone’s sanity.

Educate and request:

  • Make sure you tell schedulers / providers that your child has special needs and may need accommodations in order to have a successful appointment.
  • You know your child. 
    • What aspects of the appointment do you anticipate being difficult? 
    • What has been difficult at past appointments? 
    • Is there a way we can adapt the appointment based on these areas of need? 
    • It never hurts to ask for what your child needs.
  • Ask when the least busy time of the day is and request an appointment at that time to minimize time spent waiting. Waiting can be hard.
  • Ask to be scheduled with providers that have experience working with children who have special needs. 


Assess the environment:

  • What may be challenging about the environment for your child? 
    • Noise level    
      • Headphones                    
    • Feel of gown
      • Can they remain in their own clothing?
    •  Busy waiting room / long wait time
      • Can you and your child take a walk instead of waiting in the waiting room. Can they call your cell when the nurse / doctor is ready?
    • Lights
      • Can the lights be dimmed?
      • Can your child wear sunglasses?

Bring what works from home:

  • If you use visuals at home with your child, bring them with you to the appointment.
  • Utilize distractors and soothers 



  • What is most important to get done during the visit? 
  • What can wait until next time if needed?
  • Backup plan; when to end an appointment or stop a procedure.

State and reinforce expected behaviors:

  • Help them know what to expect (e.g., who will they see, where are they going, what will be done)
  • Review expected behavior prior to the appointment 
    • Both of these can be done verbally or with the use of social stories
  • Identify reinforcers prior to the appointment 
  • Reinforce expected behavior

**Give choices and control when you can**

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