Mamacita says: First of all, I haven’t had anything to eat since 10 p.m. last night, and as I type this, it’s almost 6 p.m. I had to go into the hospital lab today for a fasting blood test. It was an interesting experience.
Excuse me while I go get a sandwich.
Where was I? Oh, yes, at the hospital vampire lab.
While I was signing in and promising them ALL of my blood so they could test a little of it, I heard a commotion from one of the little rooms. “Someone is scared,” I said.
No. Someone was autistic, and the social worker, nurses, and techs had been in there with him for several hours trying to persuade him to let them draw a little blood. This was the fourth day of it.
“I want ice cream. McDonald’s ice cream!” the young teen kept insisting. “After you let us draw your blood, you can have McDonald’s ice cream,” he was promised by everyone in the room.
Still, he could get no further than close enough to touch the chair.
I asked the nurse checking me in if this boy had ever seen blood drawn at all. She didn’t think so. I asked her if it might help if he saw my blood drawn. She went and asked the group in the room, and I was invited in.
Fortunately – because I am not an easy lay draw, this time it went smoothly and easily. I said “Why, this doesn’t hurt. I can’t even feel it!” and “This is just a rubber band! Just a rubber band!” and the boy would call me on it whenever he could, reaching out and feeling the wide rubber band and testing the “bounce” of my vein. I said “I get ice cream after this is done!” and he repeated that several times. “Is it over already? I didn’t feel anything! It didn’t hurt a bit! Now I get ice cream!” It was kind of odd to have a crowd of perfect strangers clustered around me as I sat in the chair with a needle in my arm, but who cares?
People educate each other in all kinds of ways, and more often than not it’s those unexpected, unplanned ways that are the most effective.
Yes, indeed, I told him. Science isn’t just for geniuses whose brains work “normally,” whatever that might be. Science is for everybody – all ages and levels and personalities, and it connects with every other aspect of curriculum and philosophy and hobby and life. I told him he might start by sharing a story about people eating bread and butter, and then making butter. All science ain’t rocket science.
When I left, the boy had advanced as far as the chair, which was a first, but it was doubtful they’d draw any blood today. Then again, the day isn’t over yet. He was still demanding McDonald’s ice cream, but I hope they didn’t give him any if he didn’t let them draw his blood. Autistic kids can manipulate, too. They’re not stupid.
I gave the social worker the Spot Dot I always carry in my purse – it’s good for so many things: reading, drawing attention to something, rewards, gaining a child’s confidence, magic, whimsy. . . . and yes, I do consider magic and whimsy to be right up there with reading.
The boy and his “crew” will be back tomorrow to try again. Maybe they’re a step closer, and maybe they’re not. Who knows? A kid is a kid, and autism has nothing to do with THAT.
Now I want ice cream. And I’d go out and get some, too, except for three minor details: I’m fat; I’m diabetic; and I’m broke.
If not for those things, I’d be in line at the Pokey Treat Jiffy Treat RIGHT NOW.
Darn minor details.
P.S. You’ll get there, kid. I liked your face. However, the ice cream is only for AFTER you let them draw your blood. A deal is a deal.