Our oldest daughter has been seeing a neurologist since birth. After 15 years, we have found there are some things we can do proactively to make neurology appointments go more smoothly.
Why would your child see a neurologist? A neurologist is a doctor who deals with diseases and conditions that affect the nervous system. If your child suffers from seizures, delayed speech, poor muscle tone, or frequent headaches, your pediatrician may ask a neurologist for an evaluation.1
First, shop around. It’s very important that you find a neurologist with whom you can have an open and honest discussion. Neurologists can retain not only vast amounts of information, but have an intricate knowledge of how the brain works. Occasionally, this intense type of intellect does not excel with social skills. We have had three neurologists over the years. Each neurologist has overwhelmed me with information but was willing to take the time to explain and answer questions.
Never stay with a physician that makes you feel stupid for asking a question. You don’t want a doctor who is too busy to explain things to you. If they can’t come down to your level to talk to you about your child, then move on.
As with any specialist, go prepared with your questions. Whenever I don’t write them down, I inevitably miss one. Some offices charge for e-mails or phone calls in excess of your appointment. You are less likely to be rushed out of your appointment without having asked everything you needed to if you write questions down.
Do everything you can to minimize the stress of the neurology appointment for your child, especially if they are young or sensitive to medical situations. Here are a few suggestions:
- Take a photo of your child with their physician or specialist and create a picture book, or keep an album on your phone. Prior to the appointment, show your child who they will be seeing.
- Talk to your child the night before and the morning of about who they will be seeing and what they can expect.
- Think about including a reward for good behavior. My daughter knows if she is good then she gets an ice cream afterward (the cheap kind; we see a LOT of doctors!). I remind her when we get there, “what do you get if you have good behavior?” Even though she is non-verbal, ice cream speaks her language and it will often off set anxiety or stress.
If they need an EEG
I recommend taking some time the night before to divide your child’s hair into sections for an EEG (electroencephalogram) if it is more than a few inches long. Our EEG administrator once shared with me that the easiest hair to place the probes on is someone with corn rows. I thought, there is no reason I can’t at least divide her hair into a grid and ponytail it! When I took her back the next time, the experience was dramatically easier. It also helped to get the “goo” out when it was over. If you have a child with longer hair, part the hair in half down the middle and go from there until you have small squares covering the entire head.
Here is a helpful link out of Vancover about the ins and outs of a pediatric EEG.
On Your Way Out
Lastly, no matter what they tell you, remember that despite their knowledge, they cannot know the future. I was told my daughter would never walk, talk, or do much more than stare. As a young girl she had an MRI. Afterward, she walked into the doctor’s office the physician said, “The child in this brain scan is not the child that just walked in here. I can’t explain this?” Even though she has multiple disabilities, our daughter is not remotely the child described to me when she was an infant. She is bright, and full of life, and lights up every room she enters with her vibrant personality and uninhibited love for others.
Doctors must prepare you for the worst, but it is lovely to surprise them once in a while!
1 What is a child neurologist? Special Learning, Inc.