The Importance of Being Informed: awareness, preparedness, and a social storybook download

Posted by: West Georgia Eye Care Center in Frontpage Article on April 22, 2016

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The Importance of Being Informed: awareness, preparedness, and a social storybook download

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” H.P. Lovecraft

Very few of us actually enjoy the unknown. We like to feel informed, prepared, certain. Why do you think so many children (and some adults, too) are afraid of the dark? Why do you think so many people cringe in terror at the thought of a blind date, or impromptu public speaking, or being lost in a strange place? When we don’t know what will happen, our imaginations go wild with terrifying possibilities.

So, we can safely say that the unknown is a scary place for most people. But neurological researchers say that facing the unknown is especially difficult for autistic individuals. New and unpredictable circumstances can cause excessive discomfort, anxiety, and sometimes outright terror. For many reasons (involving sensory input signals and other intricate neurological details), facing new experiences is legitimately difficult for someone with autism.

To bolster our own autism awareness, we spoke with Christina McIntosh, an educator who specializes in using Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) with autistic children. We asked what medical professionals, parents, and caregivers could do to make eye exams more comfortable for autistic patients.

“While a child with autism might see a primary care doctor several times a year, he or she may not see the eye doctor as often. This makes it more of a ‘new experience’ and less familiar. It might be helpful to create a social story about what it’s like to visit the eye doctor: ‘What will happen? What will I feel? What will the doctor be like?’

Mrs. McIntosh mentioned that it’s crucial to have as much information as possible. What are the concrete specifics on what to expect during an eye exam? When it comes to preparation, knowledge really is power. She recommends a parent or caregiver begin reading this social storybook to the child a few weeks in advance. This will give the child a chance to process the information, ask questions, and feel prepared.

At West Georgia Eye Care Center, we’re committed to serving our patients with both excellence and compassion. If we can take an opportunity to ease your anxiety, we will! In an effort to keep our patients as comfortable and confident as possible, particularly our autistic patients, we’ve created a social storybook download: A Visit to West Georgia Eye Care Center. With straightforward text and fun pictures, we hope this resource will be useful in preparing autistic patients for an eye exam. Because an eye exam shouldn’t be one more unknown to be afraid of. And because it matters who you see.

autism puzzle


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