HOW TO CHOOSE A PEADIATRICIAN
It is important to ensure that your child has a fantastic peadiatrician, with a lot of good references, especially in the early stages after diagnosis, or while you are looking for a diagnosis.
If your child has special needs and had been diagnosed with a medical condition which may need constant treatment, this stage in the child's care is very important.
Here are a few tips that can help when you are deciding on which peadiatrician is better suited for your child's needs:
- Location - Having the best peadiatrician , who is far away from where you live may not always be practical, especially if your child's disability is linked to acute illness. Should your child require hospitalisation or need to see specialists, this will all be done near your Paediatrician, so the long commutes may not always be practical for you or your family.
- Size of Practice - I have always preferred small practices,it is easier to get a doctor's appointment and the doctor gets to know you and your child a lot beter.There is also more of a family atmosphere and the waiting period is always so much shorter.
- Availability - It is very important for us as parents of special need's children to know that our peadiatrician is available to us for questions or in a time of need. Make sure you find out if their time is split between another practice; are they available over weekends or off-hours, or will you be in the hands of a Locum? If your child has a degenerative condition, these questions will become very important.
- Experience - For me it has always been more important to have a peadiatrician, even one who has less experience with my children's condition, who is willing to collaborate with me. I have found that the "experts" are very rigid and don't always want to listen to my ideas or perspective. They very seldom want to look at things outside of the conventional wisdom, or consider any possibilities. You know your child better than anyone, so it is important to find a doctor that shares your views and is open to working with you for the good of your child.
- Personality - Use your instincts here...chances are that you will be spending allot of time with your paediatrician, you might as well like him!Descide what kind of doctor you want, spend some time with him and see if he is someone you can work with. If you have to still struggle with your doctor, over and above everything else, find another doctor...it's just not worth it!
A WEEK BEFORE THE DOCTOR'S VISIT
It sometimes may take a while before you get to see the peadiatrician, which is not a bad thing, as it gives you, time to prepare:
- Take someone with - I would strongly recommend that you take someone with to the appointment. Choose someone who knows your child well. It always helps to have a second pair of hands, especially if the examination is long and the child gets tiered and irritated. Afterwards, it also helps if there is someone to distract the child in the waiting room while you talk to the doctor, without having to deal with a child tugging at your skirt to be let free.
- Gather information - Talk to the therapists, teachers and anyone that may be involved with your child. Find out if there sure any questions that they need clarity on. Write all the questions down, you may remember them on the drive there, but as soon as you are sitting infront of the doctor, they seem to inconveniently disappear.
It is also very important to let your child know where you are going, who you are going to see and what to expect at the doctor. This will put there mind at ease and allow the visit to go more smoothly.
WHAT TO ASK AFTER THE DIAGNOSIS
You may feel very overwhelmed after your child's diagnosis and so many questions to ask relating to your childs specific condition or medical issues.
Write all the questions down that you want to ask and also the things that you don't understand, so that you don't forget them.
Here are also some general questions to ask, so that the next step in your childs treatment is clear to you and the peadiatrician:
Remember, a diagnosis gives you options. If you question the answers that have been given, it's OK to get a second opinion.
- How can we help our child right now? - Your doctor may discuss many therapies and procedures that will help your child in the future, but finding out what you can do to help you child's immediate comfort, health and functioning is also important. Taking action now will help you feel more in control.
- Resources - Can he recommend any books to read, support groups or put you in touch with other parents, who are in the same situation as what you are.
- Should you tell your child? - Ask you doctor for some advise what your child needs to do, know or comprehend...and how to message through. This is very important especially for older children. If they understand what is happening they are more likely to participate in their therapy and treatment.
- Services in your area - Ask your doctor about what services are available in your area, therapy, support groups, tutors, specialists. You may not need to use all of them right now, but at least you have the information should the time come...Planning for what may happen puts your mind at ease and you feel more in control.
- Research opportunities - Find out if there is any research being done on your childs condition.Participsting in research is a very personal choice.I allowed my eldest son to be part of the research when I was going through the "Let's find a cure" stage.It worked for a while, but when it got to the stage that I felt we where becoming lab rats, I stopped! Needless to say we didn't find a cure, but we contributed and they are now able to do pre-natal testing and have mapped the gene. My boy's cannot be helped by this...yet, but maybe in the future other children can be.
- Medication - If medication is prescribed, find out why it is needed and what the side effects are. Initially there may be a trial and error element with the medication, watch your child closely and stay in touch with your doctor.
Your Peadiatrician may also have recommended a specialist, make the appointment, as someone who has more experience in this condition will be able to give you more exact details on what to expect and where to go from here.
It's also understandable if you shed a tear in the parking lot, it's been a helluva day.
AFTER THE VIST
After your visit to the doctor, it is perfectly normal to be
- to grieve
- to cry
- to question
- to deny
Let yourself feel all of these emotions, you wouldn't be human if you didn't.
Your child may be "labeled" disabled or handicapped...but remeber,above all,he is still your child, that you love and cherish!
Afterwards wipe your tears, hug your special baby, and begin the journey of discovering a whole new life with your special needs child!
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