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Living with Autism

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March 30, 2015

Autistic Adults in Hospital Settings

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Oh, we've been here. And back. Many times. A trip to the ER room. A hospital stay. Overwhelmed RN's who have never dealt with an autistic patient with epilepsy or self-injurious behavior. CNAs assigned as "sitters" who think every curious move is a seizure and every vocalization means pain. It's maddening, really. And dangerous to the autistic patient. There's just no way to teach strangers everything they need to know that fast.

For instance, the time our autistic son wanted to get out of the hospital bed, but each time he tried, he'd be excessively medicated with Ativan, so he couldn't get up.

The solution we came up with to avoid excessive medication during hospital stays is to have our own trained people who know our son by his side during the ENTIRE hospital stay. And the state can pay for it because it's needed to protect him. And he has a legal right to be protected in every setting.

Trained staff knew when to it was "safe" to allow our autistic son to take a short walk to relief anxiety and meet his sensory needs.

Trained staff knew when he was hungry and thirsty. Knew how to feed him to avoid aspiration. (One hospital CNA had no clue and kept shoving food into his mouth, while he was having myoclonus seizure activity.)

I also recall the time our autistic son was in hospital and the CNA "sitter" thought it was "okay to let him slap his legs", to the tune of hours of non-stop slapping that resulting in severe bruising to the leg. That's when we decided, oh, hell no, we are sending in trained staff to protect and assist him. This  is insane.

And you can't blame the hospital staff. They don't know him. They haven't been trained to deal with autistic patients who have complex medical and behavioral issues. So, you  must come up with creative solutions.

Below is a helpful article showing what a delicate situation it is when you have an autistic person who can't speak, needing medical attention:


Excellent article about the dangers of overlooking illness and injuries in NON-VERBAL autistic individuals.


http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/mar/29/autism-ill-health-learning-disabilities-non-verbal-patients#comments



1 comment:

Bill Nason said...

Kim, if you get a chance, please email me. My name is Bill Nason and I am the moderator of the "Autism Discussion Page" on facebook. I am a limited license psychologist who specializes in autism and other developmental disabilities with severe behavior challenges. Would be interested in collaborating with you if there is anything I can offer you.

billnason@yahoo.com

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