Autism and iPad in the Exam Room

Several of my patients have Autism.  They vary exactly where they are on the spectrum.
Autism and iPad in the Exam Room

Most of them have some form of anxiety at office visits; for some, it is severe.  Of course, many children Have anxiety around doctors.  In fact, surgeons have noticed that the iPad has become a great anxiety reducer.
Many children nowadays have some sort of electronic entertainment while they are in the exam room.  This helps to pass the time and with some children, it indeed reduces stress.  However, I have noticed that in children on the Autism Spectrum, these devices are more helpful than with other children.  It tends to soothe them, in that it allows them to focus on something they enjoy, rather on my examination of them.  Now, when parents of children with Autism try to pry these tablets, iPads & handheld gaming devices out of their children’s hands, I encourage their use.  Parents at first look at me in a questioning manner.  However, once they see that most, if not the entire exam can be done with the tablet in the child’s hands, without anxiety, they are thrilled.  After all, it is stressful enough to go to the pediatrician, let alone to have to wrangle with your child while they are there.  
In fact, I’ve learned that I can be physically more flexible than I knew. Of course, this requires me to be able to work around the child and the tablet, which I was neither trained to do, nor accustomed to do.   However, the benefits are worth it. Happy child means happy parent.  It’s nice to able to maneuver in the world of a child with Autism with an iPad and lots of happiness.
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About Nancy M. Silva, MD, FAAP

I'm a Board Certified Pediatrician. I've been in practice since 2000. I'm happily married with two children. I graduated Medical School from the State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate College of Medicine in Brooklyn, NY. My Pediatric Residency training was at University of South Florida, College of Medicine. I've been in private practice since 2000. As a medical student, I had the privilege to care for children at Kings County Hospital & Downstate Medical Center in urban Brooklyn. As a resident, I cared for children at Tampa General Hospital & All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. These experiences helped shape the Pediatrician I am today.

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