How to help your ASD child deal with blood tests
Well, the post title is a bit of a misnomer. I wouldn't have a CLUE how to help every ASD kid get through the intense trauma of having needles stuck into them. But I can tell you how it went down for us, today.
We see a bio-med doctor and twice a year for the last three years she's ordered blood tests, so we've duly traipsed along to the pathology lab and fought and battled to get needles into my son's arms.
Sometimes the patches have helped. You know, the ones that make everything numb. Other times, they've hindered, because they actually shrink the veins down, making it harder for the brave blood ladies to do their jobs.
Today we had no patches. But it seemed okay. He wasn't that anxious heading up the mountain to town. We talked about the necessary treat for afterwards and discussed the relative merits of a new song on itunes versus a packet of Vegie Chips. (Chips won, in case you're wondering.)
The troubles started when we had to wait until the six people ahead of us went in for their turns. A long time to wait builds anxiety. The next trouble was the fact that it was FREEZING. The poor kid was so anxious and so cold that the lady could hardly get a vein. And then he began to get nervous.
He was almost all set to go when he suddenly looked down at his arm and nearly fell off the bed with anxiety. "NO! I can't!" he yelled, sitting bolt upright. "It's too much for me! I can't do it!" We coaxed and tried and reminded him of the many, many times he'd been brave and succeeded but he refused and refused and refused.
We called in reinforcements. Tough lady from before came in. She straight-talked him and made certain there was no possibility of taking no for an answer. We were going to get that blood today!
Finally he asked for a drink. It was enough of a shift that I thought, 'okay, there's some possibility of success here'. I moved my position so that I was behind him, hugging and they gave him one of their bears to cuddle. Then I put some Vetiver oil on him and talked about other things to shift his thinking. Suddenly, he came up with an idea.
"I need a blindfold!" he said. The nurse whipped out a nose mask and popped it on his eyes and I covered it with my hand. "Good idea, mate," I said. "Good problem solving."
FInally he asked me to pray out loud.
"Pray that I won't feel a thing!" he demanded, so I did it, and the procedure began.
When the needle went in he yelped a little bit but while it was in, he was asking, "have you put it in yet?"
"Yes. Stay still," the ladies said. "Don't move," and he didn't. Finally, it was over. The anxiety drained away as quickly as it had come up and he apologised to the ladies. "Sorry about the whole screaming thing," he said.
"Did you feel anything?" I asked.
"Only the tiniest little prick," he said. "Your prayers were answered."
I was surprisingly unscathed by the whole incident (I'm an old hand now) but the two ladies looked at each other and let out a deep breath. "I think we'll need a coffee," they said.
I told Bright Eyes I would write a summary of all the things that helped, so here it is.
3) the teddy
4) the blindfold
5) staying warm