I’ve had a rather traumatising morning and was wondering if this was a problem other people on the spectrum have encountered?
4 years ago I had shingles. The past couple of days I’ve been getting horrendous burning pain that feels like shingles did last time. It’s a bank holiday so we phoned 111 and ended up going to an outpatient clinic at the hospital. The doctor (male) said he needed to examine me. My mum was with me, as was a chaperone (female nurse) and we explained to him that I was autistic and that I was very stressed at the thought of being examined as the pain was around the groin area and I've never had anyone have to examine me there before. I had hoped that would be enough to make him mindful of being delicate. He was not. It was horrible. I was lying on the bed, holding onto my Mum’s hand, crying my eyes out and having to shut my eyes. He said he couldn’t see any blisters so couldn’t give any antivirals in case it wasn’t shingles, which I completely understand (I study biomedical science at university and was worried that this scenario would happen), but his whole manner was wrong. He was very unsympathetic to my extreme distress and kept saying how he was “only helping”.
Several years ago I had a similar experience where a female doctor needed to listen to my heart through a stethoscope and started pulling my vest up without my permission because she was frustrated that I was trying to cover myself up given my mum was in the room. So I got very distressed at the feeling of exposure and her lack of sympathy or delicacy. (This was before I had my autism diagnosis)
I would be very interested to hear of anyone who has similar stories, as maybe this is a problem that really needs to be advocated for in hospitals
I get really stressed when a doctor examines me - I just feel hugely uncomfortable and exposed (I think this is quite normal for many people, whether autistic or not, but I do wonder whether autism makes us extra sensitive). Fortunately, the doctors I've come across have been very understanding and considerate, but I know a few (neurotypical) people with very different experiences where they've met with impatient, inconsiderate medical professionals when being examined. Perhaps it's a problem for the medical industry as a whole - I think all people should be afforded dignity and respect, particularly considering it's really uncomfortable having to be examined in the first place.
Yes, you make a very good point. It’s probably more a case of ensuring more doctors have a good bedside manner, whether the patient is autistic or not. It’s hard because I know they’re under so much pressure with cuts to resources, but a few kind words and a gentle manner go such a long way, especially for autistic people who, as you say, are perhaps more sensitive to such things.
Exactly - it's a stressful job and that's understandable, but respect and care go a long way.