Today the girls hung out with my folks while I spent the morning doing much needed errands, and visiting the laundry-mat to wash all the blankets and miscellaneous bedding in the house. When I got there to pick up Beth, to take her to her eye doctor appointment, she was quite emotional and quick to meltdown. My stomach twisted in a knot, because I knew if she was like this at one of her favorite places in the world, then there was not much hope for meltdown-free doctor visit. Sometimes I really hate when I am right.
She was happy enough on the car ride and we played “Find the Doctor’s office” on the way. When we arrived she was still pretty even-keel. As soon as we got in the actual office she remembered the playroom, and wanted to dart. Unfortunately, it is Spring Break and the office was packed, especially the playroom. So we checked in and I kept her at bay for as long as I could, but she needed to get in there and play, so I waited by the door while she jumped in the empty car. She held up really well the first 30minutes, but then she was getting bored and antsy. Finally after 50minutes, they called us back.
The first part was not bad; they wanted her to identify the same 4 letters over-and-over in different sizes on the wall. They gave her a board with the same 4 letters and asked her to match them. I told the technician she would have better luck asking what letter was on the screen, because Beth doesn’t completely get the matching theory yet. So she tried that and Beth did well with it, but did have some issues when the letters were smaller. Now, was that because she couldn’t see them, or because she cannot consistently identify letters and numbers yet? I don’t know, but I suspect it was a little bit of both. Anyhow once we finished with that part, they needed to put drops in her eyes to dilate them. **Insert First Meltdown of Epic Proportions.** Eventually we did get the drops in, but she almost vomited in the process and was so overwrought, it took quite some time to calm her. Also after this point she refused to sit on my lap for anything.
Back to the waiting room we went to give the drops time to work. By this time it is 4:10pm, which is when we should be eating dinner. So now, not only is she tired, highly sensitive, and sad, but she is also hungry. While in the playroom she decided she wanted to play with a group of kids. At first they were shunning her and trying to ignore her. Once the one little girl left, the sister and brother who remained, were actually engaging with Beth. She was really drawn to the sister, who was about 8 or 9, and the girl had tons of questions about Beth and Autism. The entire time we talked Beth was touching her arm, or holding her hand. She was calm and content, until the girl was called back to see the doctor. **Insert Second Massive Meltdown.** I tried everything, but could not calm her down. She was sobbing so hard she was drooling, gasping for air, and blood red. As my heart was breaking for her, and my mind was racing for a solution, I looked up to see several people gawking at us. Yes, they were gawking with mouths open and all, right before they started whispering to each other and staring some more, some with smirks. Normally, I can ignore the ignorance of other people, but today it really cut me deep. How any adult can sit there smirking and gawking at a child in obvious pain is beyond me. I was on the verge of tears myself, when the receptionist came over with a basket of stickers and tried her best to help us. I appreciated her understanding and support more than I could convey in that moment. Eventually Beth calmed down and then it was time to go see the doctor.
Once we were in the exam room, the technician did a few more tests. I told her that at this point Beth was really struggling to hold it together and may not be that cooperative. She assured me Beth was doing great, and kept telling her what a big girl she was, and praising her efforts. Even when Beth would not listen to her, the woman had the patience of a saint. Once the doctor came in, she was pretty content again, and he was able to do most of the exam without incident. She does have astigmatisms in both eyes, and will need glasses eventually. Doctor T does not feel they are a necessity at the moment, since she is hovering around 20/40, and thriving in school. He said that the small benefit they may provide her at this time, is not worth the trauma and sensory battles she may experience. So we will go back in 6months and see how she is doing. He expects that by the time she starts Kindergarten in the Fall of 2014, she will need glasses. All we can do is pray that by then she will understand why she needs them, actually keep them on, and not react negatively to them.
We stopped at the reception desk one more time to get our form for the school’s file, and make our follow-up appointment. By now the waiting room was pretty empty, and Beth happily flitted from one thing to the next. She even went up to a woman sitting with a baby, and said: “Oh how cute.” Then I told her it was time to pick up Anne and head home. **Insert Third Meltdown, of Slightly Less Proportions.** All of sudden she didn’t want to leave and she cried most of the way to McDonalds about missing the doctor and needing french fries. Of course this was at 5pm, when she was starving and far past the point of regulation, all I could do was try to distract her until we could get some food into her. She was happier once she started eating her treat, but the rest of the night was a horrible roller-coaster filled with many tears. Now she is sleeping peacefully in her bed, but something tells me we will have some night terrors tonight, so I will be sleeping with one eye open.
I am mentally and physically exhausted. Trying to restrain her and give the necessary input to calm her down, took a real toll on my already injured shoulder. At the moment, all I can say is: “My Everything Hurts.” The physical pain I will get over, but the emotions of today will linger with me much longer. I am appalled at how some of the people in the waiting room behaved and conducted themselves for two reasons. One is because they are adults and should never be amused by seeing a child in pain. Two is because they are teaching another generation (their children) to be unkind and judgmental when you see someone who behaves differently. I am HEARTBROKEN at what I witnessed today, but I am also so VERY thankful that Beth does not realize the ignorance of most people yet.
I am extremely PROUD of Beth, and how hard she tried today. In all honesty this year was much better than last year, which means we are making progress. Our life is about Progress NOT Perfection, and that makes today a victory for our girl, even if it was a truly ROUGH day for her. She did the best she could, and as always, I am inspired by my Hero, Beth.
As we quickly approach Autism Awareness Month, I will be joining many other bloggers to invest my time and energy in Autism ACCEPTANCE Month. We must find a way to stop another generation of discrimination, we must find a way to teach society that Different is NOT Less, we must send a message “RESPECT and COMPASSION for ALL People.”
For more Information on Autism Acceptance Day and Month, please visit:
Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.