A positive spin on another pointless appointment?

This afternoon we had an appointment with yet another new Consultant Paediatrician. We have never seen the same person twice, meaning a long time spent explaining background and history before we even get started. To be honest, I didn’t have much hope or expectation before we went, so at least I wasn’t disappointed. This one at least observed J before we went into the room, which is a first. He was very nice and asked lots of questions, listening patiently to my answers, but in the end we are still no further forward and nothing has changed.

After a very bad morning, with a major meltdown over me leaving his side to shower and get dressed, we dragged ourselves out of the door, into the car and up to the local Health Centre. J usually doesn’t react well to doctor’s visits and I wondered if his behaviour was down to some sixth-sense, knowing what I was about to do to him. However, my son seems to do the opposite of what I expect at times and was perfectly happy to come into the Health Centre and sit down to play with the toys in the waiting area. He even stayed with my mum, without protest or upset, while I went in to speak to the doctor alone. Once he was invited into the room he bounced in happily, waving to the doctor and laughing, closing the door behind him! You could have knocked me down with a feather. I’m sure the doctor must think I am a crazy person who has completely made up the stories of how he reacts to being closed inside a small room for medical appointments.

My main reason for this visit was to find out about the muscle tightening/ticks J has. These seem to me to be involuntary and are worse when he is annoyed, excited or tired. I also wanted some help with his sleeping, which is rarely good and has a big impact on how he is the following day (not to mention the effect on how we are the next day too!) The nice doctor said that from his observations he could see a lot of positive things: that J was able to answer to his name, he was making some eye contact and smiling, he wasn’t distressed at being in an unfamiliar place and he was making noises indicating an attempt to speak. These are good things. However, they were things that I already knew and they do not help the situation we are currently experiencing with J. At the moment he can be quite wilful in trying to get what he wants. He is very strong and it can be difficult to get him to stop or calm down at times. It is very difficult to get him to go over to sleep, sometimes resulting in very late bedtimes, as well as waking through the night and very early rises!

The doctor’s suggestions were nothing new and were not for anything that we haven’t already tried. I explained this to him but his answer was simply that J was still very young and that nursery/school should help to settle his routine and tire him out for sleep. My explanation that he has in fact attended a nursery for a year and a half, that his sleep pattern was worse than when he was younger and that the difficulty in sleeping wasn’t due to him not being tired, seemed to fall on deaf ears. The overall assessment being that he is simply too young for any real intervention. We again got a couple of leafelts for an autism charity.

My other frustration came in the guise of the help on offer for parents to learn about strategies to help their child. Every workshop, appointment, class, etc. takes place during the day, during the week and during term time, meaning that I cannot access any of these services because I work full-time. Surely there must be services on offer for working parents?

I suppose we have to look for the positive in every experience, Today’s positive – J didn’t go crazy in the consultation room. A sign of things to come? Or a fluke which merely meant the doctor didn’t see the reaction we normally see? Only time will tell but, for now at least, it’s a positive step.

A visit to the doctor can be a stressful occasion for child and parent. Some tips on preparing for it can be found here:

Preparing for a visit to the doctor – NAS

If your child struggles with situations and displays certain types of behaviour as a result you may want to look at – Thinking about and managing behaviour information (the top tips on dealing with behaviour and strategies found further down this page can be helpful):

Behaviour Guidelines – NAS

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