I like to have a visit where I simply get to know the patient and their parents. That way I can best understand the patient’s level of autism, their level of tolerance, and how to communicate and interact with them. It also helps to build trust with an autistic patient, and jumping into care right away can be a negative experience without preparation and familiarization. I encourage parents to allow comfort items to come along for the visit—a stuffed animal, a blanket, a toy.
My office is an active place during business hours, but it’s calm and collected, and everybody is really laid back and happy here. I see one patient at a time. This makes a big difference when we’re trying to build a bridge to start care with patients on the autism spectrum.
I have great results with a “tell-show-do” approach to care. It helps patients understand and prepare for care, and it breeds cooperation. I want to introduce sounds, smells, and things the patients will see before we start treatment. I keep instruments and equipment out of sight as much as possible.
Some parents want to know if I will restrain uncontrollable patients. I have promised to never restrain a patient, ever. Sedation care is often a great solution for those patients, but we take that only on a case by case basis.