At the Doctor's Office

The pediatrician is where you're supposed to go for solutions, but often you wind up finding more problems. A long wait in a crowded waiting room, another in a cold examining room, anticipation of pain from shots, and other indignities of an office visit can make your child with sensory integration disorder seem more out of control than usual.

Waiting Room Worries

Doctors' waiting rooms vary in their appreciation of the fact that young children will be passing time in them. Some have a toy or two scattered about. Some have a television. There might be a fun-looking chair or a rocking horse. But few have anything that will provide much comfort for your child with sensory integration disorder. (Indeed, any doctor who put a trampoline in his waiting room would probably be accused of trying to drum up business.)

The burden of occupying your child during a long spell in the waiting room will therefore fall to you. Bring supplies. If your child is occupied by a Game Boy or soothed by a portable music player, have those items ready. A portable DVD player may also be good for passing time.

Fidget toys should always come with you on trips away from home. Hard candies or gum may give some good gustatory or proprioceptive input. Fill up a backpack with necessary supplies, and err on the side of toting too much.

To avoid waiting as much as possible, try getting your doctor's first appointment in the morning. There's less likelihood he'll be running late, and you may be able to get right in. It's not foolproof — doctors are sometimes late to work, and an epidemic of colds may fill the waiting room — but it's probably your best chance at a quick visit.

The Doctor Will See You … Soon

Of course, once you leave the waiting room for the examining room, there's still no assurance that you'll be seeing the doctor right away. Often, you'll sit with your child — perhaps your unclothed child — in a cold and sterile room for many more minutes. Your child may feel anxious about the possibility of shots, tests, touch, and uncomfortable examinations, and waiting in the presence of tools and tables and not much else will only increase that. You'll want to have enough toys and books and other distractions along with you to get through this time, too.

This is also a good opportunity for some soothing, calming contact. If it comforts your child to have you push down on her shoulders or against her hands, make a little game of that now. If she enjoys a foot massage, rub those tootsies. For some kids, tickling can be helpful and fun. Even rocking, if that's your child's most reliable source of comfort, can be okay.

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