Preparing Your Child or Adolescent for Their Visit to The Cottage
We request that you not question your child or adolescent about the concerns for or allegations of abuse. That information is best obtained by a properly trained pediatric forensic interviewer. It is okay to listen if he/she voluntarily offers information to you, but avoid asking any "probing" questions about what he/she tells you. Please reassure your child or adolescent that you are not angry or upset with them. We can talk about any concerns he/she may have when you arrive for the appointment.
Prior to your appointment at The Cottage, you should let your child or adolescent know that you will be taking him/her for a medical check-up, explaining to him/her that it is similar to a check-up at their pediatrician’s office. Some children are embarrassed about having a medical exam. It is helpful to explain to your child or adolescent that our provider is there to make sure their body is okay and to keep them healthy. Reassure them there is nothing to be afraid of. There is no pain associated with the medical examination process, and no shots are given at The Cottage; however, the provider may recommend further testing, medications, and/or immunizations after the visit.
Please keep in mind that the more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your child or adolescent will be. It will help if your child or adolescent is well rested and has had a snack. For younger children, please bring a favorite toy or comfort item with you to the appointment.
Pediatric & Adolescent
What to Bring to Your Appointment
Proof of guardianship such as custody papers (if you are not the child/adolescent's parent).
Another adult to support you and your child and to sit with your child while you speak with the treatment team at The Cottage, if at all possible.
The child/adolescent's insurance card(s) if he/she is covered under a health insurance plan and the appointment is not for an initial sexual abuse evaluation (ie: physical abuse or neglect or any type of follow-up visit).
The Cottage does not allow suspected or alleged perpetrators or non-supportive caregivers anywhere on the premises during the appointment.
What to Expect at Your Appointment
Families seen at The Cottage usually have no wait time, as we provide individualized, patient-centered care, and because of that, expect the entire visit to our clinic to be as long as 1-2 hours. If you pre-register through the online patient portal, however, the length of your appointment will likely be greatly reduced. Upon arrival, the medical-forensic provider will spend some time with you collecting your child or adolescent’s medical history. If you provided this information through the online patient portal prior to your visit, we will only need to briefly review this information to ensure it is complete and accurate. We will also explain the examination process to you, answer any questions you may have for us, and ask you to sign the consent forms to perform the examination.
Our provider will also make sure your child or adolescent understands that he/she will have a physical examination, what that process will entail, attempt to alleviate any fears or anxiety related to it, and address any questions or concerns he/she may have. Depending on the age and developmental level of the patient, the provider may ask to speak briefly with him/her alone.
When it is time for the medical examination, we leave it up to the patient to determine who they would like to have in the room. Some children and adolescents want their parent(s) in the room, while some do not. We try to give as much control as we possibly can to the patient in these situations. When parents or caregivers are in the room during the examination, regardless of the age or developmental level of the patient, they are asked to focus on supporting their child/adolescent. We also ask any support person in the room with the patient to refrain from asking questions about physical findings or answering questions the provider asks the patient.
Our medical providers will weigh, measure, take vital signs, and perform a complete head-to-toe physical examination on the patient. No part of the physical exam should cause your child or adolescent any pain. The genital exam involves an external look at your child or adolescent’s genital area utilizing a special instrument called a colposcope. This instrument provides good light and magnification to facilitate better visualization of all structures. The colposcope does not touch the patient’s body in any way, nor is it felt by the patient; however, the provider will need to touch the patient’s genital and anal areas to facilitate proper visualization of all external structures. It is important for you and your child or adolescent to understand that the genital exam is very different and far less invasive than an adult pelvic exam, and it is absolutely in no way comparable to a “pap smear.” Vaginal speculums are not inserted inside children and young adolescents. Patients are never forced, and they are given as much time as necessary to feel comfortable with the exam. If your child or adolescent is very resistant, the exam can be rescheduled for a later date or not done at all. Most children and adolescents are cooperative when they reassured that the decision to have the exam is ultimately their own. Please be assured that your child or adolescent will always be treated with dignity and respect.
After the examination we will discuss whether your child or adolescent will need additional medical care, such as lab testing, x-rays, medications, immunizations, and/or follow-up examinations. We will also discuss what other steps need to be taken and place referrals for any additional services you and your child or adolescent may need.