Today I'm happy to welcome Becky, who blogs at Defining "Normal", who is not only our first contributor to this series in the new year, but who has been very helpful to me in my organizational difficulties trying to make this series happen. You don't need to know the details, let's just all be thankful to Becky for being cool. Thank you, Becky!!!
This summer, my husband and I made an appointment for Katie at the eye doctor. I prepped her as to what was going to happen (mainly the eye drop portion of it.) I explained at length WHY those things would need to happen. I also really emphasized that she HAD to allow the doctors and assistants to do their jobs. She stated she understood. She was actually excited about going to the eye doctor. She was thrilled when we got there and went around looking at the glasses trying to pick out which ones she would have. She told me she wanted some that were yellow with purple flowers. Thank God they don’t make any that look like that!
We got into the examination room and she did great looking through all the various devices and doing what she was told. Then came time for the eye drops. I had attempted to prepare the staff about Katie. When I called to make the appointment I had told them that she has autism and that she does not like having her face/head messed with. I TOLD them that putting in the eye drops to dilate her eyes was going to be an issue. “Oh don’t worry, we deal with children all the time.” Well, you haven’t dealt with MY kid. When we arrived at the appointment, I reminded them, “My daughter has autism and she doesn’t like having her face messed with. The eye drops are going to be a problem.” Again, “Oh, don’t worry, we deal with children all the time.” *sigh* When it came time for the eye drops, I told the assistant, “Katie has autism. She does not like having her face messed with. This is going to be a challenge.” “Oh, it will be fine. I work with kids all the time.” What happened next was straight out of a time passed where they tortured patients at hospitals… They laid her back in the chair and I could see her beginning to panic. Then, the assistant came to stand over her and tried talking to her. The hands came up to the face and the yelling/crying began. Katie is a very vocal and verbal child. She is FULLY capable of relating to those around her how much she dislikes a situation, and she did just that. I stood back and watched in absolute horror/vindication. I tried to tell them! I mostly stood by to see the man struggle with the situation, but I finally took pity on him and I went over to help by holding her hands down. I told her over and over again, “Let the man do his job. You need to have these eye drops to make sure your eyes are healthy.” All the while getting louder and louder. She was also getting louder and louder. I can only imagine what the people in the other exam rooms were thinking. Now, since her hands were pinned down, she scrunched her eyes up. The poor man (kid really) tried to get the drops in. He had us go out to the waiting room while the drops did their stuff. Poor Katie was all red from crying and she was all sweaty from the stress the whole situation had caused her. But, she was happy to be done with it all and enjoyed looking at all the glasses. After about twenty minutes, the man (kid) came back to check her eyes… We had to try the drops again. The first go round didn’t take. *FUCK*
This time, when we went in to the room, I explained to Katie that we had to do the drops again because she fought so hard the first time, they didn’t get into her eyes. Panic immediately set in. Poor kiddo almost hyperventilated. The poor man came back in looking absolutely worn out before we even began and I could tell he was dreading this whole repeat experience. This time, I practically laid on top of Katie pinning her arms at her sides and used my hands to wedge her head still and pry open her eyes. She screamed like I was killing her. At the end of it all, the man looked at me wide eyed and apologized. A lot. Hopefully, he learned something from this. I’m sure he will remember it. I know that Katie and I will.
This is not something that Katie will just grow out of. She has an absolute dislike of these types of things. It is complete sensory overload for her. Yes, she will learn to cope with it, but this kind of stuff is ALWAYS going to be a challenge for her. Even though she knows having her ears cleaned and her earrings changed doesn’t hurt. Even though she WANTS it done, it is a huge source of stress for her, yet she doesn’t want to give up her pierced ears. “Normal” kids may have issues like this the first time or two it happens, but eventually they get over it. Ours won’t.