During the current Coronavirus pandemic, if you have worries about your own health or the health of others, you will be given a consultation with your GP or health professional by phone or video. On this page, Prof Jonathan Green shares his advice for getting the most out of these health appointments.
Why might you find a phone or video appointment difficult?
For many autistic people a remote consultation has positives. You can avoid the stress of travel and the busy and noisy environment of a clinic and you can be in your own safe space when you talk. However, remote conversations can be difficult.
It is probably more difficult for both you and the doctor to understand how the other is feeling, or the pace at which the conversation should go. They can require more concentration than conversations in person. That's why planning what you want to say and sharing your needs with the doctor can be really helpful.
How can you get the most out of your appointment?
- Decide what suits you - phone or video: Think about whether you would prefer a video call or a telephone appointment. Many autistic people prefer telephone appointments because it is easier to concentrate without having to look at someone's face, but some people prefer to see their doctor. Either way, you should not hesitate to make your wishes known. Most doctors should be very flexible. You can arrange that with the reception staff before your appointment.
- Make a list before the call: Prior to the appointment it is always worth making a list of the key things that you want to ask, because during the conversation they can be forgotten otherwise.
- Find a quiet place to speak: It is definitely worth finding a quiet place for the conversation where you can not have distraction, if this is possible.
- Share your needs upfront: Be clear about your requirements with the doctor when you start the call – such as “please speak quite slowly so that I can make sure that I’ve understood what what you’re saying”.
- Take notes or record the call: It's easy to forget what you are told when you feel under pressure. Have a pen and paper ready to make notes during your appointment - or set up your phone to record the audio if that's easier.
- Ask for a summary: At the end of your appointment, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor to highlight the main points that you need to take away. You can ask something like: "Before we finish, can you tell me the main points that I should focus on from this appointment?”