Impatient Outpatient

My friend tells me that Joshua is not naughty but he is communicating, well if that is the case, he was communicating a lot yesterday morning at the Health Centre. We had been sent there for a podiatry appointment as his splints and walking gait have rubbed his skin, so he has callouses on the side of his right foot. So orthotics had asked me to ask our GP for a chiropody referral, which I duly did and this appointment was the result.

It was at 9.20 and as I was unsure about parking facilities and how the rush hour traffic might impact on me, so we were ten minutes early, as I found a Disabled parking space right outside the entrance. We went inside and told reception that we had arrived and were told to sit in the waiting room until we were called. Chance would be a fine thing, Joshua was not in the mood to sit and wait and chaos ensued as he tried every tactic he had in his repertoire to communicate :

  • He kept standing in front of the automatic doors, so that the endlessly opened and shut, letting an artic gale inside each time he did so
  • He walked up to the reception desk, a pillar and a door marked ‘staff only’ and kicked them hard
  • He ran into the adjacent GP surgery reception, leaned over the desk and grabbed their telephone, pretending to make a call
  • He ran down the corridor, trying to access a door marked ‘private’
  • When I found him books to look at, they were tossed onto the floor, as was my mobile phone
  • When I got him to sit down, he tried to knock the chair next to him over
  • He leaned over to stare at a young girl close to her face, the pre-school girl was afraid of him but I was just relieved that he did not grab at her bright, bobble hat as he does not usually allow anyone to wear a hat
  • He stroked a mother’s hair then tugged her ponytail

Finally, exhausted, he sat next to me and leaned on my shoulder, to have a rest and it is of course at that calm moment, that we were called through to see Podiatry. Unfortunately, the lady asked us both to sit down while she filled in an introductory form. As Joshua was being ignored, he began to play up again :  pulling notices off the walls, trying to escape, kicking the radiator, switching a fan on and trying to gain access to her computer keyboard! Having seen how ‘busy’ he was, the podiatrist said that there was no way that she was going to take a sharp blade to his feet as it would be just too dangerous. She seemed reluctant to even ask him to remove his shoes, socks and splints to  look at his foot. But I insisted that she saw the extent of the problem after we had waited so long to be seen.

Remarkably, he sat back on the long couch and happily allowed me to remove his footwear and then he sat very still while she simply filed the callous and even cut his toenails while he was there. She made us another appointment for 3 May and I agreed to bring his iPad next time, to encourage him to sit still both in the waiting room and in the appointment itself. Exhausted by the busy and frustrating 40 minutes in the Health Centre, we got back to the car and I drove him into school, via Donald’s for breakfast.

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The Rough with the Smooth

I have written this week about how much more alert and cheeky Joshua has become, well sometimes that cheekiness spills over into naughty, so it is not all good. Yesterday our lively son was very hard work as we waited for our lunch to arrive at a cafe : he simply could not wait or sit still and unfortunately their service was very slow. He kept grabbing my sunglasses off my face – a trick which he finds hilarious, but when they are my only pair of prescription glasses and his fingernails have grown sharp, I do not share his sense of humour. Then he moved onto grabbing condiments off the table and throwing them and then he would not sit down; while waiting for our lunch to arrive I walked him around the adjacent park/crazy golf course four times, once with him pushing his own wheelchair and once more with me pushing him in his chair, until finally I saw the food arrive. Joshua was like a changed person once his fish and chips arrived, he sat quietly and fed himself, happily as he finally had what he wanted.

Whenever I am exasperated by Joshua’s more challenging behaviour and I describe him as being ‘naughty’, I have a friend who explains that he is just ‘communicating’ rather than being bad. I know that in this case it was true – but she is not always right!  He was clearly commincating that he could not wait for his meal to arrive and as we were sitting outside, overlooking a park, he was confused as to why we were sitting around looking at the park rather than playing in it. I often take my ipad with me for when only a Shrek distraction will do. He watched me take my ipad from my handbag, only to find that the battery was flat, so he wanted Shrek but was thwarted, making him crosser.

Although these behaviours are mild in comparison with those that some that Joshua’s peers at school exhibit, they did mean that our lunch out was not as relaxing or enjoyable as it might have been. But I do understand why he was behaving in this way – I was frustrated by the wait for my simple sandwich too – and I appreciate that we need to take the rough with the smooth, as there cannot just be positive outcomes from Joshua’s increased awareness and liveliness and we maybe need to learn to avoid busy restaurants in future, so as not to put ourselves in these situations whereever possible.