Archive | November, 2017

“She’s very good with autism”

20 Nov

The children have been without a paediatrician for a while now, not that it’s bothered them, or me, as I still send off their melatonin requests and a magic pixie (aka a very nice doctor’s secretary) ensures they are filled.

I was told ages ago that their new paed would be Dr W. OK, I said, thank you. It helped a little that this new doctor has the same first name as the one who has retired. Children like mine don’t do change easily, and this helped. Every time we’ve been up to the autism centre in town I’ve made sure to point out her picture on the wall too. Familiarity, you see?

Then the appointment was cancelled due to a personal family matter. We understood; doctors are human too. Then more time went on, and the next date we got was no good as we were on holiday. And then the next one coincided with a previous engagement. You get the picture?

All this time, bear in mind, I’d been reminding the children gently that it would be Dr W when they finally get the appointment.

A letter arrived. I slit the envelope, saw it was from the clinic and thought “I’ll make sure to take that along with us tomorrow.” I knew there could be nothing in it as I’d arranged the time and date over the telephone.

Something made me look though. Instead of the name Dr W I’d been expecting to see, there was a line that read Team: Dr G. Uh oh!!

i didn’t panic. I assumed that Dr G was now Dr W’s boss, because anything else, like a change of paed, my autistic children would have been warned, right?

Wrong. When I phoned the lovely secretary (seriously, they do not pay this woman enough) she informed me that Dr W was “only ever interim”, and that Dr G was the new paed for the area. And then she said what I put in quotes as the title of this post. “She’s good with autism”.

I beg to differ. This woman may indeed be a lovely person, but if she’s made it to consultant level and hasn’t yet realised that a vast percentage of autistic people don’t cope well with sudden change, then she is not “good with autism”.

I told the secretary I would talk to the children. I kept it light and cheerful deliberately. If I could get this box-ticking exercise out of the way it would be in everyone’s best interests,

Two minutes later, I had one on the verge of tears and a meltdown and the other stony faced and sullen. They are 11 and 12 now, and neither is small for their age. Both refused point blank to go. I tried to cajole, offer the treat of lunch out afterwards. All to no avail.

And I know my kids. If they won’t go somewhere, there is no physical way to make it happen. I also didn’t want to wake them tomorrow and have them screaming and yelling in panic as their anxiety spiralled when I could avoid it.

So I rang the local support charity for advice, as to be honest, I had no idea who else to call. They suggested I phone the clinic back and state what had happened, and that the ball was now in their court to ensure my children get an appointment with Dr W (who is still working in the area) as they had been promised.

So I made a cuppa and had a flap for a moment about having to be confrontational, which I hate. Then I called.

Luckily the aforementioned secretary is a diamond, and totally understood, and promised to pass on the message, including why they won’t be coming tomorrow.

For now, crisis averted. But seriously, how does anyone who has risen to the ranks of consultant and whose speciality (presumably) is autism, think this is OK? How hard would it be to ask your team to quickly phone around and inform parents that there has been a change of staff and how can they ease the transition? Because that is all it would have taken. One phone call, a few weeks ago, when I could have requested a photo of the new doctor and stuck it up, together with a reminder of the clinic time.

So no, Dr G, you might be a very nice person, and you might have lots of letters after your name. But you are not “very good with autism”.

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