Utter Autism

February 6, 2010

Hospital Adventure: the ER

If I was looking for a reason to come back to writing here, I think I’ve found it. 

Adrian began pointing to his ankle one night about a week ago.  It looked slightly swollen but there was no bruising or redness or any other indication of injury so we put him to bed and the following morning it was back to normal.  A night or two later, same thing. 

A call to the doctor, an x-ray and some blood work won us a ticket straight to the hospital to treat a bone infection. 

Knowing the process of being admitted to the hospital would be difficult, I packed a bag full of activities, snacks and tools.  I had his music player, DVD player, communication device, a laptop, a Nintendo DS, a video camera and a white board to write on.  We used his wheelchair to bring him both to help him deal with the sensory overload of the environment and also so we’d have a measure of control with him securely fastened in the chair.

Short on rooms, we ended up sitting in the hallway on a bed.  The noise, the activity all around us, the lighting and the confusion were a recipe for disaster.  Adrian didn’t disappoint.  He yelled, screamed, cried and carried on.  He pinched and punched everything in sight – the walls, the bed, himself and us. 

We tried the communication device and the DVD player but neither caught his attention enough to distract him from his tirade.  I pulled out the white board and drew part of a house adding the letters ‘hou’ next to it.  He bit stopped to  finished drawing the house and writing the word. 

Next, I wrote down the letter ‘M’ and handed him the board.   He wrote the word ‘mouse’.  I wrote several other letters and for each he thought a moment and then wrote out the rest of a word that began with that letter.  He wrote his last name, cookie, home, and shocked me by writing my first name.  I didn’t even know he knew that!

He found the activity calming but it couldn’t last forever.  The wait went on and eventually he’d had enough and he went back to his tantrum, this time running down the crowded hall.  We moved to using the technique of folding his hands and slowly counting to 10 which was met with only minimal success as evidenced by the black and blues that still populate my arms.

Once we got into a room he settled down to watch some TV.   We turned the lights down, fed him a few cookies and had a chance to catch our breath for a moment. 

As the moments ticked on he became more agitated.  It was getting late and I’m sure he wanted nothing more than to just go home to his comfy bed.  I told him that we were going to stay and sleep in this strange place.   I think he clearly understood what I was saying because each time he responded with anger and increased aggression.

He sat still and calm and let us put an IV in.    But my husband and I ended up sitting on either side, each holding a hand to prevent him from pulling it out.  In the end our efforts were futile.  We were distracted talking to one of the doctors for a few seconds and that’s all it took him to rip it from his arm despite the tape and gauze wrappings they’d applied.

Our business in the ER finished, we were relieved to finally make it to the pediatrics unit… well, all of us except for Adrian.

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