Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hospital Visits: Dealing with Autism in the Hospital Setting

Going to the hospital whether it is for a planned minor surgery or a trip to the ER for a broken bone, can be a very scary prospect for you and your child with autism.  Walking into a hospital even for a blood draw can turn ugly in a matter of minutes.  What makes or breaks the visit is the professionals that are dealing with the child.

We have had both good and bad experiences in the area the that we live in.  It does not take long to recognize in dealing with some of these professionals, whether it is a doctor or a lab tech, that many of them are not properly trained in dealing with individuals with autism.  The deer in the headlights look from the receptionist when you say "my child has autism and this could get loud, is there a more private room we can wait in?"  Or the look of bewilderment from the nurse when your child begins to melt down from fear.  How about the ER doctor that argues with you when he tells you he wants to give your child Tylenol, and you say no, "I prefer ibuprofen.....Tylenol depletes glutathione?"  (my personal favorite!)  We have had good experiences as well.  Like the time Jack went for his umpteenth set of PE tubes, and they actually brought a woman in whose job is to deal with special needs kids in these situations, and she actually brought PECS cards with her to explain what he could expect.  NOW THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!  It was a wonderful experience.

We as parents need to communicate with these medical "professionals" (sorry, in some cases I use that term very loosely) and teach them how to deal with our children.  Call area hospitals and give them feedback about your experience and make suggestions if you have a bad experience.  If you have a scheduled visit, call ahead and maybe schedule a time for your child to visit the facility ahead of time to cut down on fear and anxiety.  Remind them that we are the parents, and we know whats best for our children.  Lastly, do not let any medical professional push something on your child that you feel is not right.  Whether it be a medication or a flu shot in the ER.  You are your child's advocate and it is your right to refuse something that you don't feel is appropriate for your child.

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