Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
You're likely to start by first having your child see his or her pediatrician or family doctor. In some cases when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred immediately to a specialist, such as a pediatric psychiatrist or other mental health provider who specializes in child development.
In rare cases where safety is an issue, your child may require an emergency evaluation in the emergency room and possibly a hospital specializing in child and adolescent psychiatry.
What you can do
Being an active participant in your child's care is critical. Start by getting prepared for a scheduled medical or psychiatric appointment. Think about your child's needs and goals, and review your child's symptoms and medical history. Before the appointment:
- Write down any symptoms you've noticed, including when these symptoms began and how they've changed over time. Try to have specific examples ready.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes that may be affecting your child.
- List any other medical conditions, including mental health problems, with which your child has been diagnosed.
- Take a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements, that your child takes.
Questions to ask
Write down a list of questions to ask. These questions may include:
- What is likely causing my child's symptoms or condition?
- Other than the most likely cause, what are other possible causes for my child's symptoms or condition?
- What kinds of tests does my child need?
- Is my child's condition likely temporary or chronic?
- How will a diagnosis of childhood schizophrenia affect my child's life?
- What's the best treatment for my child?
- What specialists does my child need to see?
- Who else will be involved in the care of my child?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions anytime you don't understand something being discussed.
What to expect from your doctor
Your child's doctor is likely to ask you and your child a number of questions. Anticipating some of these questions will help make the discussion productive. Your doctor may ask:
- When did symptoms first start?
- Have symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are the symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve the symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen the symptoms?
- How do the symptoms affect your child's daily life?
- Have any relatives had a mental illness?
- Has your child experienced any physical or emotional trauma?
- Do symptoms seem to be related to major changes or stressors within the family or social environment?
- Have any other medical symptoms, such as headaches, nausea, tremors or fevers, occurred around the same time that the symptoms started?
- What medications, including vitamins and supplements, does your child take?
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