Doctor this

We had the most torturous annual checkup yesterday.   Everything just took forever, we were there for an hour and a half.   It was partly because we were seeing a doctor who is not our regular pediatrician.  He was nice but slow and not prepared.

R. was totally uncooperative.  She fought being measured, weighed and every thing else.   The nurse started by bringing us into a tiny room to get her ears checked.  They have never done this before.  I informed the nurse that she had autism (you would think it is on her chart!) and that she did not answer questions.   She said oh that’s okay, she just has to wear these headphones and raise her hand when she hears a beep.    In the time it took her to say that R. reached for the headphones.  They had blue and red ear pieces and probably looked interesting.  We tried to get her to wear them, and then to remove them from her possession, both of which made her scream.  So by the time we got into the exam room she was in a mood.

I’m just about at the point where I can not physically control her when she is fighting.  She is 41.75 inches tall, that is more than half my height.  If I hear Just hold her on your lap Mom, one more time…   We finally had to resort to the cruelest method for all involved so that the doctor could check her ears and body.  E. and I held her down on the exam table and the doctor did what he needed to.  That was not as easy as it sounds, even with the two of us.

I left the office determined to find a more autism friendly place.  But now that I’ve had a night to sleep on it, I realize that I need to take total control of these visits.  I plan to talk to her regular pediatrician about this, but here’s my ideas so far.

Call the office before the appointment and get a list of every thing they will do that involves R. – weighing, checking ears whatever and I’ll make a chart for her with pictures.

I think we need to start playing doctor at home – measuring, weighing, and wearing headphones.  The only thing she did not protest was being checked with the stethoscope.  She has a play one which I brought, and the doctor spent time “checking” E and I, as well as Ernie and Elmo.

I think I will put R. in a dress with no pants for the next doctor appointment.  She hates having her clothes taken off.  She doesn’t like her legs bare, but its time for her to be a California girl.

The doctor spends a lot of time asking questions and discussing the responses.  This is all good, but it is a long time for R. to wait.  I think I’ll see if I can get them to let me go in and answer the questions before R. comes in.   E. can take her for a walk.

This sounds awful and cruel, and I hesitate even to write this, but I wonder if there is some way to strap her down on the exam table.   Straps would hold her more consistently and enable the doctor to get everything done faster.  I think she would like the feeling of the straps more than E. and I holding her.

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  1. Everyone’s experience is different, but this used to be a problem for us that seemed to work itself out. Whenever my son had an appointment at his pediatrician, the entire crew would prepare as though a hurricane was approaching. Now, at 13 he is much better about it. It’s a good thing because at his current size, there is no way I could restrain him.

    1. I know everyone is different, but it still makes me feel better to know that it got better for someone. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Our doctor’s office is just as clueless. I always get blank stares when I remind them that my daughter has autism. I never know if this means “I know. I can see it right here in her chart” or “I don’t care and I’m going to continue ignoring you and hope for the best”. Jerks. I don’t blame you at all for thinking about the strap thing, but I think that walking her through it at home…social stories or finding videos, etc…could maybe get you there eventually with less restraining.

    1. Maybe we need a social story for the staff at the doctor’s office. Videos are a good idea, I think there is an Elmo goes to the doctor one…

  3. My daughter at doctors is a crapshoot, but she HAS gotten better. A lot of which I attribute to having great pediatricians (we switched). Also, as she has gotten older, little things…. One pediatrician, specifically is just really engaged with her and tells her everything that is going on – even if she’s not (obviously) getting an answer – she’s also big and dramatic, and makes sure to check her from feet to head, thus putting off the majority of the screaming until the end. Oh, and they let her be checked standing up if at all possible. I bring any and all reinforcers (bugs right now – seriously, I need it on a tee shirt – my kid likes bugs) give her any and all so that we can get through it.

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