What Can You Do To Get Your Autistic Child Ready For A Trip To The Eye Doctor?

If you've found yourself wondering if changes in your autistic child's behavior (or even problems he or she reports with being able to read or see from a distance) indicate that his or her vision is declining, you may be wondering how to go about securing a vision exam. Although correcting vision problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism can go a long way toward improving your child's quality of life, visiting any new medical professional can be a tough and stressful process. Read on to learn more about what you should consider when evaluating an optometrist or ophthalmologist for your autistic child, as well as what you can do to prepare your child for what to expect at an upcoming appointment.

How can you find an optometrist who can deal with your child's specific needs?

Vision exams can be stressful even for adults—so facing this exam as a child, especially a child with sensory or social issues, can be an especially big challenge. As a result, it's key to do some preliminary research and find an optometrist or ophthalmologist in your area who has specific experience with children with autism or autism-spectrum disorders like Asperger's. Choosing an optometrist who has been trained in this area and who has some idea what to expect when hearing that a patient has autism can be key to reducing your child's (and your own) anxiety about the visit.

If you aren't able to glean information about a specific eye doctor's experience with autistic children from his or her website or practice's page, you may want to give the office a call or chat with other parents of autistic children in your city or region to see what recommendations they may be able to offer. Often, it can be well worth it to travel to a nearby larger city so that you can use the services of an optometrist who has skill in addressing the challenges that may come with an autistic child's vision exam rather than sticking closer to home.

What can you do to prepare your autistic child for a vision exam?

For autistic children, being prepared and knowing what to expect before going into a new situation can be the key to avoiding meltdowns. If this will be your child's first vision exam, you may want to play-act your roles a few times at home before venturing out to the office so that your child can become accustomed to sitting still in a chair while you (or the doctor) look into his or her eyes. You may be able to find some short, reassuring videos online (or even at your own dentist's office) that can show certain exam procedures and give your child some age-appropriate information to help calm his or her nerves before the visit. 

You'll also want to make sure your child is aware of the point of the examination—for him or her to indicate the clearest letter or number in a set so that the optometrist can ensure that your child's vision is correct. If your child doesn't yet know his or her letters or numbers or is uncomfortable saying them out loud in a room with a near-stranger, the optometrist may have some alternative identification methods that will work. 

Finally, you may want to be prepared for a treat (or bribe) to reward your child for a job well-done. For autistic children in which any deviation from a normal schedule can be cause for alarm, going to a new physician like an optometrist can be an unbelievably stressful situation, and being able to look forward to a treat at the end of this process can keep many children focused much longer than they'd otherwise be.

For more information on eye doctors, check out websites like http://allabouteyes.com.