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Ask the Pediatrician: How can parents of children with autism prepare for telehealth appointments?

Dr. Kristin Sohl, American Academy of Pediatrics on

Published in Health & Fitness

Q: How can I help my daughter, who has autism, prepare for a telehealth appointment?

A: Telehealth visits can be a helpful part of your child's ongoing medical care. Because regular visits and therapy may require time away from work and school, using a video or phone call can be a beneficial, convenient and fun way to check in from almost anywhere.

But keep in mind that just as it can be hard for some children to sit in a doctor's office for a visit, it can be even harder to sit through a telehealth appointment and talk. Preparing for the visit ahead of time can make it easier for your child to participate and help the visit go smoothly.

Telehealth visits allow your child to take part in all or part of the visit while they play or relax. Talk with your pediatrician about which parts of the visit they would like your child to participate in and when your child can take breaks. Share tips with the pediatrician about ways to communicate with your child that you've found work well.

Some tips to help prepare your child for a telehealth visit:

— Let them have a favorite toy, stuffed animal, book, pictures, activity or other item to show their doctor.

 

— Show your child what to expect beforehand. Seeing the doctor via telehealth still is new for many and having an idea about what will happen can be helpful.

— Tell them that they will see their doctor on the computer or phone screen.

— Point out that they can talk and show things to the doctor just like in person.

— Try using tools like social stories or visual schedules with pictures or simple first/then boards to help your child know what to expect with a telehealth visit. Ask your doctor if they have these or other tools.

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