Waiting Rooms and Autism

Miriam Gwynne by Miriam Gwynne Additional Needs

Miriam Gwynne

Miriam Gwynne

Full time mum and carer for two truly wonderful autistic twins. I love reading, writing, walking, swimming and encouraging others. Don’t struggle a...

It's the in-between bit that comes in the centre of 'first and then' and in their minds, nothing should come in the middle. First doctor, then home...why have this great big long wait in the middle?

Yet we spend hours of our life waiting. As adults we wait at traffic lights, wait for phone calls, wait to be seen at the doctors and the worst one we all dread is waiting on a call centre answering when you have to listen to music over and over again!

Unfortunately, my children also need to wait. We spent hours some weeks waiting in waiting rooms to be seen by eye specialists, paediatricians, hospital specialists and nurses. My children hate it.

It always amazes me how so few clinics have anything for children to do during that waiting stage.

Over the years I have learnt to come prepared and if I have to collect my children from school for an appointment I have a bag ready with snacks, drinks, nappies, wipes, and most of all their iPad. One thing I can always predict is that neither of my children will just sit on a seat quietly and wait doing nothing until their name is called.

Sometimes other people look at me when I pull out an iPad for my children. Some perhaps think I am spoiling them or encouraging them to be antisocial.

Other children often look on in jealousy. I never say anything because I don't see the need to single my children out by saying publicly that they have autism.

It is no-one else's business.

I have tried without the technology. I have tried without the snacks too. My son (who is non-verbal and a huge sensory seeker) played with the doors and refused to allow anyone into the waiting area or out of it.

He climbed over seats, he flushed toilets and he pulled out toilet paper. He screamed, he ran away and he kicked and punched me.

I don't need that. No-one in the waiting room needs that. My daughter just cries, curls up into a ball and withdraws so badly it takes days to even hear her talk again. Her anxiety overtakes everything and I have had to leave before being seen on more than one occasion. I do what needs to be done to avoid that.

Waiting rooms and autism are an awful combination. The fact is they are often small, have a distinct smell of clinics, there is nothing for children to do, and there is the transition into the room and then into another room again.

You can not predict how many will be there, how noisy it will be or prepare them for how long the waiting will last. To my kids, they are like holding cells full of strangers with no time limit to how long they will have to be there.

They get so stressed and anxious about them so I do everything I can to help.

So I am that mum who has children in the waiting area who sit playing their iPad and I don't care.

If we have to be there then we make it through in whatever way we can! After all how many adults happily use the time on their phones, so what is different?


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