AUTISTICS AND HEALTH CARE.
Some people mean well, if a person who had a cat or a dog dies, to say, "Oh, get a kitten or a puppy," or they hear that their friend's cat has had kittens or dog has had puppies and decide to get them a new pet. Their hearts may be in the right place but if the connection between the person and the animal is not there, then it can be a mistake. My brother came to get Nutsy because a woman he worked with had a son who lived with his stepmother and they were both drug users. Nutsy and his siblings faced being put into a bag and drowned if homes could not be found for them, so my brother's then partner said, "Okay, we'll have that one." My brother's ex-partner was cruel to Nutsy, throwing him at waist height off benches and tables, and hitting him on the head, and my brother spent long hours in work, so he didn't have the time to devote to him. Nutsy and I connected straightaway. Nutsy chose me as his human, and for two years, I was his go to for food and comfort.
The same applies to an autistic when it comes to health care. The most important person in health care is the consumer, but the first port of call for health concerns is the doctor. What can be challenging for autistic folks in Australia is that the traditional solo or partnered practice is giving way to group practices, some of which are not owned by doctors, but have doctors working for them. What many autistic folks, and I'm a classic case here, like is to see the same doctor, and a doctor they have a rapport with, not to go to the medical centre and see whoever picks up your file or whoever is on duty.
In an ideal world, people would have choice, and choice would involve a person being able to choose whether they buy what they want from a small corner store or a large supermarket. The same would apply to medical centres, whereby people would choose whether they wanted to go to a solo practice or whether or not they wanted to go to a group practice. Sadly, some doctors are choosing to sell their solo practices and join group practices.
The implications for autistics are far-reaching here. I say, if a doctor chooses to do this, they should make it known to their patient that they will be doing this and CHECK WITH MANAGMENT and say that they have a patient who will only see them and to please respect their choice. And that means, the autistic patient knows exactly when their preferred doctor is available, and if they call ahead and ask for an appointment with their preferred doctor the patient is respected and the staff do NOT ask if they would prefer to see another doctor.
If have two experiences here, one of which was resolved without panic and one was completely wrong. When I was living in one place, I had to ring through and ask for a new referral to see a specialist, and the receptionist gave me an appointment. To my horror, I received an email reminder that I was in with the wrong doctor! Fortunately, the receptionist rang me that morning and apologised and offered me an appointment with my preferred doctor. The trust, however, was gone. Not long later, I moved back to the city and from there I went to me old GP again. The experience that went horribly wrong was when I was twelve and had a meltdown because the receptionist asked my mother if we wanted to see a doctor I didn't want to see. My mother then claimed that it was embarrassing and said to my father, "And you should have seen the performance that he put on in the doctors." Well, surprise, surprise, I was in an environment where I was uncomfortable and exposed to a situation where I was uncomfortable! And, it was a situation that could have been avoided if only my mother had respected my choices! She then came back with, "I know, but the situation became such-," well, no, the situation nothing, the receptionist didn't point a gun at her head, the receptionist didn't come across and say, "The doctor has to attend to an emergency," all that happened was the receptionist offered another option and if we'd said no, she would have left it at that.
With all the scaring around COVID19, (yes, I know people have died from it), the most important thing we need to tell people is, "Autistic people have certain comfort items, one of which can be antibacterial hand wash," (I know, I do), "so please, make sure you leave some antibacterial hand wash for autistic people in the shops. And if there is a limit per customer, please respect it." And for autistic people, please, allow them as much continuity of care with their regular team as is possible.
Also, you need to remember that autistic people are typically not demanding people. Yes, we have fought for quiet hours in supermarkets and the like, but if you say to an autistic person, "We haven't got this at that time," we will typically say, "Okay, when can we have it, please?" not, "I want it! You give it to me!"
So just like you need to find the RIGHT cat or dog (people may love cats or dogs generally, but that doesn't mean they always connect) for each individual autistic person, you need to find the right health care team for them.