Tips for navigating the special needs world with your child’s doctor

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Editor’s note: This is the first of a two part series on fostering strong and trusting relationships between physicians and children with special needs and their family members.

We all want the best medical care for our children, and a crucial part of obtaining proper care is finding a doctor who is knowledgeable, experienced and compassionate. Finding the right doctor is especially important for children with special needs, who often require more frequent doctor visits and a higher level of medical attention.

My 15-year-old daughter, Annie, has been to dozens of doctors and specialists because she has autism spectrum disorder and a few other mental health diagnoses. When she was diagnosed before she turned 2-years-old, I immediately knew I needed to find a good doctor. But more than that, I quickly learned that I needed to work closely with our pediatrician to make the most of Annie’s appointments and her overall care.

Below are some tips to help foster a positive relationship with your child’s doctor:

Come prepared with a list of questions and concerns. There can be so many issues and worries to address when you learn your child has special needs that it can sometimes be overwhelming. I always kept a folder with Annie’s medical information, any new test results or recommendations, and a sticky pad full of questions I compiled since the prior appointment. I brought this folder to each doctor visit. Being prepared allowed me to fill the doctor in on Annie’s most recent therapies and medical concerns, and gave me the opportunity to ask specific questions I had been saving…

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