How to Prepare for a MAPS Doctor Appointment

September 29th, 2012

How to Prepare for a MAPS Doctor Appointment

20 things to know to have a successful office visit

By Holly Bortfeld

  1. Get parent recommendations and make an appointment.
    • If you live in a state with a TACA chapter, contact your local TACA chapter for a referral, or join their Yahoogroup and Facebook page, which are listed on their chapter website page, to ask other local parents for their experiences.
    • If you don’t live in a state with a TACA chapter, you can join TACA-USA Yahoogroup and ask parents for recommendations.
    • Know that you may have to wait weeks or months for an appointment with a MAPS doctor, but don’t worry, there is much you need to do to get ready.
  2. Have your child’s medical files sent early.
    • If you have your own copies of your child’s records, it’s a great idea to scan them all and put them on a simple writable CD/DVD that can be copied for cheap and sent anywhere. If you use paper photocopies, it can be hundreds of pages that can cost a lot to photocopy.
    • If you don’t have your own copies yet, you will need go to your current pediatrician’s office and fill out a HIPAA Records Release Form to get the records.
    • You can have the office copy and mail the records to the doctor directly or have them copy and give you the records. They WILL charge you for copies either way. Up to $1 per page and it’s legal for them to do so.
    • Due to this cost, we recommend that YOU keep copies yourself and either scan or photocopy whatever you need to give out to others. Always maintain the main file so you don’t have to keep paying for it over and over.
    • Also note, that there are a number of types of forms in the file you may or may not want. Such as, if you have given the doctor a copy of any school records or private therapist progress notes, you probably won’t want to pay to get copies of them as the school already provided that to you and will do so again for cheaper than a doctor’s office will.
    • Only if you LEAVE the doctor’s practice and transfer to a new doctor (not an additional doctor) do they have to send your records for no charge to you.
  3. Start the diet, if you haven’t already.
    • The GFCFSF diet is the foundation of all Medical treatment. All MAPS doctors will ask you to start it ASAP, and many will not take you as a patient if you refuse. The diet makes all therapies and treatments work better and provides a truer way to evaluate other treatments. It also removes the stress to the immune system and gut that foods can cause, so the doctor can deal with the other problems.
    • If your child isn’t already on the diet, TACA has a starter guide here and you can apply for a TACA Parent Mentor to help guide you if you would like 1:1 help.
  4. Get connected.
    • If you live in a state with a TACA chapter, go to meetings if you can or join their Yahoogroup and Facebook page, which are listed on their chapter website page.
    • If you don’t live in a state with a TACA chapter, you can join the TACA-USA Yahoogroup at and get lots of support and ideas.
    • Apply for a TACA Parent Mentor who can help guide you 1:1.
  5. Start reading.
    • TACA’s website has hundreds of hours of reading to be had, available for free, 24 hours a day.
    • Learn about the basics on your own (with the help of TACA, other parents, books and the internet) for free, so you don't have to pay a doctor $400 an hour to teach them to you.
  6. Know about your insurance coverage.
  7. Write down all of your concerns for your child.
    • List all of their challenges, medically and behaviorally. Make particular notes for poop, sleep, skin, stimming, eyes, speech, safety and behaviors.
    • Print out a copy of the traditional developmental milestones list and mark next to each when your child actually did them.
  8. Know where you are headed.
  9. It takes a village.
    • Ask the doctor's office if you are allowed to bring an audio recorder (your smartphone can record too) to the meeting as the doctor will give you a LOT of information you don’t want to miss. If not, try to bring at least one other person to take written notes. If you can bring a third person to care for the child too, that’s ideal, so you are not distracted and miss the important information. If not, make sure you pack a bag of food, toys, iPad, books, etc. to keep your child happy and engaged. These appointments are often 2-4 hours, so pack enough of everything to last.
  10. Be on the same side.
    • Agree with your spouse BEFORE you go in on your roles at the appointment and how much money you have to spend. The doctor is not a marriage counselor and at $400 an hour, you don’t want them to be.
  11. Go slow.
    • When you are new to Medical treatments you want to try 100 treatments all at the same time, but this is a bad idea. First, if your child has a reaction – good or bad – you won’t know which treatment caused it. You need to know what causes what reaction so you know whether the treatment should be stopped, adjusted or continued. Therefore, we recommend that you wait 2-3 weeks in between any new treatments, medical, educational or otherwise.
  12. Go in order.
    • List things in order of importance and implementation. Know what needs to be on board before you start a new thing. When the doctor starts prescribing, make sure you take notes on order of implementation.
  13. Prioritize.
    • If you have budget limitations (and who doesn't?) cost out each proposed treatment and test, then ask the doctor to help you prioritize them within your budget. You want to start with the things that impact your child's functioning the most first and work your way to the polishing items. This is very important as some treatments may cost a lot of money but return only a small benefit to YOUR child's progress.
  14. Be prepared.
    • Ask what is SUPPOSED to happen when starting a new treatment. What should it look like? How soon should I see changes? What changes should I expect to see in my child? What would a negative reaction look like? What do I do in the case of a negative reaction? How do I know if I should stop a treatment or push through the bad stage? Who and when do I call in case of emergency?
  15. Standard operating procedures.
  16. Supplemental purchases.
    • Know that some doctors sell supplements in house. Some sell them at a reduced price, some at an increased price. You are not obligated to buy any add on items from a doctor, even if you feel like they are a giving you the hard sell. A little comparison shopping goes a long way with this.
  17. Ask for emergency contact information and rates.
    • Many doctors will do phone and email consults and most will charge for them, even if they are emergency. Be informed so you don’t get surprised with a bill.
  18. Ask about next steps.
    • How long will it take for the tests to come back? Will our follow-up appointment be via phone or in-person. Do I make that appointment today before I leave?
  19. Stay in good standing.
    • Know that you must go back in person once per calendar year in order for a doctor to write you prescriptions of any kind. The rest of the follow-ups can be done via phone and email if you are too far away to go in person.
  20. Save all your bills and receipts.

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