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On the Coast Magazine

Doctor Visit Anxiety?

01/02/2015 12:29PM ● Published by Nancy Babin

Gallery: White Wilson's Mock CLinic [2 Images] Click any image to expand.

Anxiety related to visiting the doctor is common and something that many children experience at some point. This fear is often magnified in children with special needs.

“For a child with autism, a visit to the doctor can cause uneasiness,” says Emerald Coast Autism Center Director Staci Berryman. “By teaching children that a physician’s role is important in their lives and that there is nothing to fear, we hope to better equip them to brave their next visit.” 

To help empower young patients, White-Wilson Medical Center (WWMC) partnered with the Emerald Coast Autism Center to provide a mock clinic. The mock clinic is housed within the school and allows children to act out health care experiences in a place where they feel safe. The process allows them to mentally and physically prepare themselves for the sights, sounds and feel of a health screening. 

“For many children, a trip to the doctor equates to being sick or receiving a shot,” says White-Wilson Medical Center Pediatrician Dr. Evan Meeks. “For children with difficulty expressing themselves, a complex health history or heightened sensitivities, the anxiety can be greater.”

Dr. Meeks offers parents the following tips for helping children combat their fear of visiting a doctor:

Choose a physician who will take the time to address your family’s individual needs and sensitivities.

Build a relationship with your health care provider. Annual wellness exams are a great opportunity to monitor your child’s growth and overall health. It is also a great opportunity to show your child that visiting a physician is important, even when you are feeling well. 

Talk with your child about what to expect when visiting their provider, but don’t mention the “S” word (shots). 

For children with special needs, take extra time to discuss what an examination will entail and address potential sensory issues. 

Don’t schedule a visit during nap time. 

Bring along a familiar item like a blanket, bottle, quiet toy or snack.

Never threaten a child with a visit to the doctor as punishment. 

Lead by example. 

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