Finding New Physicians For Your Autistic Child When You Move

Posted on: 3 June 2015


Moving can be stressful for any family. In fact, according to USA Today, studies have shown that moving may be the third most stressful event that can occur during your lifetime. It may even cause post-traumatic stress disorder in normally developing children, according to Friendship Circle. So imagine how stressful moving can be for your autistic child, especially since children with autism typically thrive on routine. All of a sudden, your child is torn from the things, people and places that they are used to being around on a daily basis. 

While you can't prepare your child for all aspects of your move, you can at least help them by setting up their future medical and dental practitioners before your move. This is especially important as these are two services that can be particularly frightening for autistic children. 

Pediatricians and Urgent Care Facilities

Before you move to a new area, it's important to visit with physicians and urgent care centers in the area to see if you can find ones that you and your autistic child will feel comfortable with. Some of the things you want to look for include:

  • Does the physician or urgent care facility have a warm and welcoming atmosphere? A lot depends on your particular child. For instance, while many typically developing children might like a pediatrician's office's loud, colorful jungle theme, your autistic child might find the bright hues overwhelming or distracting.
  • What are the office hours? Does the pediatrician have early morning, late afternoon and weekend hours? If not, you will definitely need to find an urgent care facility that can meet your autistic child's needs during those times when your pediatrician is closed. And what are the hours of the urgent care facility? Some are open 24/7, while others may close by midnight or earlier. 
  • Ask if the physician and staff have experience working with autistic children with similar issues as your child. You should also ask if you and your child can meet with the staff before an actual visit. This will allow your autistic child to get to know the office and staff members under less stressful circumstances.
  • Take pictures of the office and personnel, if allowed. Then show these to your autistic child on a regular basis before your first "real" visit to a physician's office or urgent care facility. According to Medic8, preparing your child ahead of a time for a new experience by showing them pictures can help them better cope when they do have to visit the facility.
  • The location of the facility. When your autistic child is injured or very ill, driving a long distance could be very difficult, especially if they are hysterical or inconsolable. And depending on where your child is on the autism spectrum, it might also be very hard to calm them down and make them understand why they are hurting. That is why it's important to choose a location that you can get to quickly. 
  • Office features. Some urgent cares boast on-site X-ray and lab services, which means you won't have to go to another facility. And the fewer changes in scenery for your autistic child, the better. You should also check to see if the urgent care facility accepts appointments, which can be very convenient if your autistic child does not do well with long waits. 

While moving and change is very stressful for autistic children, you can at least try to minimize some of the unease your child will experience at their future physicians' offices by preparing them properly and by finding facilities that will make your child feel welcome.