• Talking to Your Doctor About Autism

    Your child has a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your experience with autism. Talk openly and regularly with your doctor. This will help you take an active role in your child's care.
    Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:
    • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
    • Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
    • Write down the answers you get. Make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification if necessary.
    • Don't be afraid to ask your questions. Also, ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.
    • How would you classify my child's case on a range of mild to severe?
    • What can I expect from my child in terms of development?
    • Will my child be able to attend a "normal" school?
    • Will you be able to manage my child’s care long term?
    • Can you be our constant advisor to evaluate my child's progress? Can you suggest treatment changes when beneficial? Or, will you recommend someone who can be?
    • Are there other healthcare professionals you can refer us to who can help with treatment?
    • Should my child take medicine? If so, what are the benefits and side effects?
    • What is the best way to incorporate these lifestyle changes into our lives?
    • How will these changes affect my other children?
    • What are the best local information resources and support for the changes we are going to have to make in our lives?
    • Can you recommend a support group? Can you tell me about other means of emotional support for our family?
    • Are there any funding sources available for the types of support we may need?
    • As my child grows, how independent will he or she be?
    • Shall we make financial and/or guardianship arrangements in case something happens to us?
    • Should we have another child? What is the chance that another child will also have autism?

    References

    Autism spectrum disorders (pervasive developmental disorders). National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/autism-spectrum-disorders-pervasive-developmental-disorders/index.shtml. Updated April 2008. Accessed September 11, 2008.

    Autism through the lifespan. Autism Society of America website. Available at: http://www.autism-society.org/living-with-autism/lifespan. Updated March 2008. Accessed September 11, 2008.

    Behrman RE, Kliegman R, et al. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders; 2007.

    Goetz CG. Goetz’s Textbook of Clinical Neurology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2007.

    Jacobson JL, Jacobson AM. Psychiatric Secrets. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Hanley & Belfus; 2001.

    Moore DP, Jefferson JW. Handbook of Medical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2004.

    Stern TA, et al. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2008.

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