Talking to Your Doctor About Autism Spectrum Disorders
Ricker Polsdorfer, MD
Your child has their own health history. Talk with their doctor about your experience with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Talk openly and regularly with your doctor. This will help you take an active role in your child's care.
General Tips for Gathering Information
Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your child's doctor:
- Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
- Write your questions ahead of time, so you do not forget them.
- Write down the answers you get. Make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for more details if you need them.
- Do not be afraid to ask your questions. Find out where you can get more information. You have a right to know.
Specific Questions and Comments for Your Doctor
About Your Child
- How would you classify my child's case on a range of mild to severe?
- What can I expect from my child in terms of development?
- Will my child be able to go to a normal school?
About Treatment Options
- Will you be able to take care of my child's needs for a long period of time?
- Can you be our constant advisor to keep track of my child's progress? Will you make changes to my child's care plan? If not, can you tell me who will?
- What other healthcare professionals can help us with a care plan?
- Should my child take medicine? If so, what are the benefits and side effects?
About Lifestyle Changes
- What is the best way to incorporate these lifestyle changes into our lives?
- How will these changes affect my other children?
- What are the best local information resources and sources of support for the changes we are going to have to make in our lives?
- Can you recommend a support group? Can you tell me about other means of emotional support for our family?
- Are there any funding sources available for the types of support we may need?
- As my child grows, how independent will he or she be?
- Should we make financial and/or guardianship arrangements in case something happens to us?
- Should we have another child? What is the chance that another child will also have ASD?
Autism spectrum disorder. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
Updated April 5, 2019. Accessed August 15, 2019.
Autism spectrum disorder. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at:
Updated March 2018. Accessed August 15, 2019.
Autism spectrum disorders. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113665/Autism-spectrum-disorders. Updated July 1, 2019. Accessed August 15, 2019.
Getting the most out of your doctor appointment. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor. Updated January 19, 2018. Accessed August 15, 2019.
Johnson CP, Myers SM, American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Children with Disabilities. Identification and evaluation of children with autism spectrum disorders. Pediatrics. 2007;120(5):1183-1215.
Last reviewed December 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 8/15/2019