Planning For Health

Medical settings can make all of us anxious, so imagine what it might be like for somebody with high support needs if they have not had the chance to understand what happens in medical settings, and why.

Families have shared that they tend to have better or more positive experiences with health services when they have been able to prepare and plan with the person with a disability.

Many parents said they wished they had begun to prepare much sooner, and that problems can be avoided by planning and preparation.One way to prepare someone with a disability to be able to engage in health care is to take every opportunity to talk about medical places, people and procedures with their family member with a disability because we often can’t predict when we will need health services.

Going to the dentist, doctor, in an ambulance or to hospital can be much less stressful or scary when the person has had time to understand the purpose of health services and to know what to expect.

Some of the ways of preparing people with disability to be able to understand medical settings and procedures which families shared include:

  • talking about medical or dental readers and picture books together
  • using social stories to talk about what happens in medical or dental places
  • using photos or watching Youtube videos to talk about medical equipment and what it does
  • using actual medical equipment so it becomes familiar and not frightening
  • doing medical/dental role plays
  • playing medical/dental games
  • playing with medical/dental themed toys

Families also shared that taking the time to build a trusting relationship with a doctor or dentist really helps people with disability to feel safe and be more likely to engage with diagnosis and treatment. This can take time, so finding a practitioner willing to work on relationship building and adapting consultations to suit the person can help.


The what why children in hospital works from the principle that children with more information are more relaxed and able to engage in health procedures. Whilst aimed at children, the principles on this website apply across all ages and some of the resources may also be useful for adults for example: ‘How do I prepare my child with a learning disability for using healthcare services’:
Parents talk about some approaches they have used to decrease anxiety about health appointments.


Tar Heel Reader has a range of free accessible readers for all ages. You can search for readers on specific topics. The readers can be downloaded as Powerpoint files so you can change them to suit your needs.

For example:

Widgit Health has a range of free Easy Read resources explaining common health situations.

For example:

Developmental Disability Dental Planning Guide

Planning to go to the dentist – A guide for people with Autism and their families


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