Simple Accommodations | Responding to Kate (Finding Cooper’s Voice)

Kate, of Finding Cooper’s Voice, was talking about how much accommodations help families like hers (and mine) and how difficult it can be when those accommodations are denied. Simple things like allowing her and her husband to accompany their son to an appointment when right now, because of COVID, the limit is one parent. How difficult would it be for them to just let two parents come in when the child needs TWO people to help him cope with being there? (Their son, Cooper, is autistic, non-verbal, and a runner – also, he is nine years old and Kate can no longer handle him by herself). Feel free to watch the video I’m referencing here. It wouldn’t be hard at all for the medical staff to allow special circumstances to dictate special responses!

As she talked about how impossible waiting rooms are for her son, and how she can’t have a conversation with the doctor while also making sure he doesn’t leave the exam room, I found myself relating. I have had to request accommodations for my daughter for the last few years. Before her diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder at the age of two and a half, I had the nightmare experiences of her screaming for an ENTIRE well check-up simply because she didn’t want to be in that room; do you know how bad my head and whole body ached after that? Waiting room fiascos and car rides that made me want to never leave my house again were our reality.

After her diagnosis, I felt like I could finally help my daughter. I could confidently stand up and say, “She has special needs, and we need those needs met.” I could say “autism” and people would listen. Before that, I’m sorry to say, people only saw bad behavior, not a condition, and certainly not a need.

Since the diagnosis, I’ve been able to call ahead and see if there is a way that we can make things easier and more comfortable for her. There ALWAYS IS a way, I am happy to say.

  • Her pediatrician has everything ready for us when we get there, we go to the room and then immediately get seen, all the uncomfortable stuff gets done last so that she’s happy the whole time that the doctor and I are needing to talk. This summer, when she went for her four year checkup, the doctor asked if we would prefer her to leave her mask off while seeing Elizabeth so as not to upset her. She also asked if we’d like her to wear regular clothes instead of her doctor coat! She is INcredible.
  • When we needed to go an appointment at our health department last December, we were able to request exemption of presence for her. Basically, my daughter’s doctor just needed to write a note explaining her condition/situation and she didn’t have to come with us.
  • Her diagnosis qualifies her for handicap parking which makes things so much safer and easier for us because it removes parking lot danger.
  • She will be going to the dentist soon and I was super relieved when they said even though kids aren’t allowed to have a parent be with them due to COVID, they DO make an exception for special needs children!

I wish we didn’t have to have special accommodations. Obviously, I wish my daughter had no challenges and we could just waltz into places like most other people do – like *I* do with my other kids. But this is how it is right now, and so I rely on the help and compassion from others as I walk this road with my sweet girl.

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