Sam is coming up for 8 years old now, and he has what has been labelled with, “Low functioning Autism, and challenging behaviour”. He can’t talk yet and has profound learning difficulties. Sam gets really anxious around medical professionals. People in scrubs are particularly hard for him to tolerate. With this in mind, today I want to share our experiences of visiting the GP with an Autistic child. The first thing I want to mention is that everybody on the Autistic spectrum is different. Each person will find different things challenging, so this post is our personal account.
Visiting the GP with an Autistic Child
As I mentioned, visiting the GP is always tough for Sam. On Monday, I phoned the GP surgery and explained how much he struggles. We were given the last appointment of the morning, so it would hopefully be quiet when we arrived.
Upon arriving, I noted a good 12 other people waiting and inwardly cried at the prospect of Sam coping in the waiting room. (Coughing, crying babies and sneezing all trigger meltdowns for Sam). I checked us in on the automated system and noticed we were 12 minutes early. (Double groan). Five seconds after I checked Sam in, we were called through to the GP’s room – 12 minutes early! (When does that EVER happen)?
Seeing The GP
When we entered the room, I said to the GP, “Blimey, you’re keen today”. The GP said he’d seen Sam’s name and cleared a couple of spaces so he wasn’t rushed. By this point, Sam had discovered the box of toys and was entertaining himself.
I explained my concerns and the GP then got down on the floor and began to play with Sam. He needed to use a magnifying glass and a tape measure to check the spots I was concerned about. Rather than insisting on Sam lying down on the bed to be examined, the GP made a game of it.
He let Sam hold the magnifying glass, while he went “boop, boop, boop” up Sam’s (non sore) arm. Sam Smiled, so the Doctor ventured higher to the spots, and measured them without touching them, or upsetting Sam. He then gave Sam the tape measure and took the magnifying glass, repeating the game with that.
In less than 5 minutes, Sam had been examined, diagnosed and waved goodbye to – all without any anxiety. Needless to say, I cried some happy tears upon leaving. So, to Dr C…. I send one MASSIVE thank you! Now, can someone please make this kind of play based examination compulsory training for all NHS staff?
I shared this story on Facebook on Monday, and we got some lovely comments back for the GP in question. You can check that post out here if you like. Finally, if you have enjoyed this visiting the GP with an Autistic child post, check out my Autism category.
PS this is just one example of staff exceeding all expectations. The NHS really is amazing.