Welcome back to Tammy and her Crazy House. I thought I would talk about how to get the most out of your appointment or services and how to make it a positive experience for everyone. I have learned a lot through my autism parenting journey and I wanted to share how I get the most out of all our appointments. I recommend these tips to anyone; even yourself, parents, caregivers, or professionals. This is what we do… (watch a video instead)
How We Plan Ahead…
Mine are now 13 and 17 but I started doing this when my eldest was about 7 years old. The meltdowns going into an unknown was just crazy, the stares, the embarrassment, and our full state of panic. I knew I had to do something. At first, I thought it had to be the professional or the environment or anything but what I was doing. After changing professionals, changing time of day, bringing his calmers, all to just fail with no results from the professional either. It came to me!
That he must be feeling as anxious about it as I did, even more so because he had no clue where I was taking him, what was going to happen, what to expect, when it would be over, or when he could return to the comfort of his couch that was his favorite spot to cuddle with his blanket and about 100 or so hot wheel cars.
Thats when the calendar came out. with drawings of what was coming in the weeks ahead. I would draw symbols he would relate to for his appointments, my appointments, his sister’s appointments, when he had no school, holidays, even when visitors were coming by, etc…
This was helping but only about 10% to 15% better. What was I missing? I still followed a daily routine, still prepared a bag with a water bottle, a snack or change for the vending machine, a small toy, and a tablet. So…. what’s missing!?!
It Still Wasn’t Right…
This is when we started using a BIGGER family calendar on the wall next to our kitchen table. Right where we can see it while we ate. This helps us to discuss what is going on in the weeks ahead. We talk about everything at dinner. It also helps to keep my most picky eater at the table a bit longer to pick. #winkyface We talked about appointments and upcoming events weeks before. I found the more notice they got the longer they had to process the event, register it in their own way, yes which includes their anxiety, fear, and of course their abundance of questions even unrelated to the specific appointment questions. I know what you are going to say! Well, that’s exactly why I don’t tell mine until the day of. Yes, that was exactly my assumption as well, but I was wrong.
But It still wasn’t perfect for days when plans change like if we hit bad weather, an appointment was canceled or changed or if a visitor did not show up all things were out of my control right? Wrong! I did have control. I controlled the calendar so I started making backup plans for everything. If the kids were going to miss half a day of school for the appointment that was canceled or if I was going to bake a cake for an event that got canceled i’d put a side note if this plan changes we will do plan B or C with details. BINGO wow I just couldn’t believe the improvements I was beginning to see like it’s definitely not a solid 100% award-winning plan but I’d say a good 70% / 85% better meaning I am human I cant control unexpected roadblocks or a sick receptionist. Now that’s sorted…
How do I possibly listen to the professional and answer questions while not being distracted by my child touching every single thing in the office, trying to lick the blinds, and not putting his finger in someone else urine sample (yes true story)!
Simple, Well… it was once I thought about it and put it together, and perfected it over time. I started to write down every that entailed the appointment. For example, if it was for a medication check-in. I would keep note of the time of day meds given, if any were missed, a list of all behaviors (good and challenging), his appetite, activity level, how well he slept, etc. You see where I’m going. Then at the appointment, I hand the doctor my notes because Doctors can read much faster than I can speak while my attention is on my child. I would also bring my binder!!
Yes, My binder has been a life-changer for us. I now have created binders for both my children. the main one I update at the beginning of every school year. I transfer all report cards, IPRC, and IES from the following year to a binder dedicated to just those reports to make room in the main one for the following school year. (if you homeschool or unschooled I would suggest adding any work or pictures of things your child has been doing with a list of improvements and goals they are working on).
I leave the main stuff that never changes in the front part such as a current photo (photo reminds them the client is indeed human), birth certificate, healthcard/insurance, immunization records, current medication list along with a med’ list of medications he has tried but didn’t work with reasons why. Custody agreement, as well as anything that is really important to have on hand.
The next part is his formal diagnosis report and any other relevant report such as phycology, hearing, occupational therapy report, etc.
The next part is the report card and current IEP. Along with any teacher’s notes or anything relating to school behavior and performance, especially the positive ones! One or two pieces of artwork or something that he has done well.
The next part is the extras like ABA reports, behavior specialist recommendations, etc. Don’t forget to update this section too when new reports come in,
The last is any special services, or funding my child gets related to his diagnosis. Note when the service or funding ends I remove it and keep it in a binder at home, This is just what I bring to all appointments such as doctor appointments, psychologists, therapy sessions, school meetings, court for custody, etc. I have even brought the binder to my own personal doctor as proof of what I’m dealing with in terms of my own ADHD, anxiety, and stress and it’s really helped a lot.
An additional bonus is that if the professional/Doctor/School gives additional papers at the appointment/meeting you have your binder!!! just slip it in right where it needs to be right there no thinking about it later or next apt. Sticky notes are also handy for to do’s after the appointment such as follow up with other processional or things to look up.
This is a video of my binder if you would like to see it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2eQx2GDs7s
Thanks for visiting 🙂
I wish you the best and feel free to message me on Instagram if you have any questions.