Autism and Vaccination Day (It's Not What You Think)

Let me tell you the tale of two sweet little girls and a very special dog heading to the doctor with their sleep-deprived and slightly cranky mother. It all happened on a Tuesday... or was it Wednesday?
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Let me tell you the tale of two sweet little girls and a very special dog heading to the doctor with their sleep-deprived and slightly cranky mother. It all happened on a Tuesday... or was it Wednesday? (It definitely wasn't Saturday because then my husband would be home and I wouldn't be doing all of this by myself and... well, I digress). Where was I? Ah, yes. I think it was a Thursday afternoon when I packed up those darling girls and our super dog and headed into the doctor's office. The littlest one would be getting a booster shot so she could enter school in the Fall. The eldest was there to support her baby sister during a difficult time (She's only seven, I had to bring her).

So, up we get to prepare for our visit. The small one (we call her little fella or the ninja) was busily playing with her wrestling figures while her sister (we call her the good one, or the quiet one) was reading a book (just kidding, she was immersed in her iPad) when I called out to them: "Girls, it's time to go to the doctor." I said. They jumped to attention because, for the most part, Doctor visits are great. He looks in their ears, he listens to their hearts and they usually get a kick out of it. This time, though, this time the little one would get a big bad needle and I had no idea how to prepare her. She has autism, as you may know, and words get all mixed up inside her brain.

The girls raced to get in the van. Wrestlers were flung with abandon and an iPad lay upside down on the floor with the theme song for Full House still playing loudly. What did they have to worry about? After all, they have a staff. Time was of the essence so I followed them to the van. The super dog jumped in last and we were off. I only spilled my coffee on my white shirt twice during the drive. Who was I kidding, thinking I could wear white, anyway. Well, if the doctor noticed the stains on my shirt then maybe it would take the focus off of the cookie crumbs sprinkling my cleavage. Hey, at least I had breakfast.

We arrive at the office. We are greeted with smiles as we enter. The little one's dog is a hit. They are attached both literally and figuratively and people love it. We are treated very well and we take our seats to wait. I still haven't told her. I whisper to my oldest. "She's going to be getting a needle in there. I may need you to help me hold her down." "Okay, Mama." She replies. She's used to these whispered instructions. Sadly, it doesn't phase her a bit.

Finally, our name is called. I feel guilt as she practically skips down to the little room where it's all going to go down. The nurse comes in first. She weighs her, measures her and tells her she is beautiful. I immediately like the nurse. Next, the doctor enters. He gets to be the good guy because he won't actually administer the shot. That job will go to the kind nurse. He checks her over and then he sits down to talk to her about her impending needle. I wonder how this will go. Her receptive language is not strong. Will she understand anything he says? He talks to her, instead of me. This, I like. He talks about her dog and why he needs needles to stay healthy for her. I think he is a genius. Her dog is the way to her heart, for sure. She listens to him and when he is done she simply says: "No Fanks." She understood all too well. He leaves with a knowing smile. He likely found his way to the other end of the clinic; furthest from the imminent noise. The nurse is on her way down the hall.

The nurse enters with a sympathetic smile and tells me it's best if I keep her on my lap and she brings over the tray carrying the needle. There is squirming and arguing and tears (and that was just me). Her big sister tries to help. She consoles her. It's too late. She is protesting but her words have stopped making sense. She is afraid and she can't be reasoned with. The prospect of the needle in the nurse's hand is too much and she falls apart. The nurse says: "I don't want to hurt her." I can tell it breaks her heart but she knows what we have to do. I use my legs to hold my daughter's legs still. I wrap one of her arms behind me and hold her still with all my mommy strength. She howls. I promise her a mountain of toys if she can get through it. She is confused. Why would we hurt her? What did she do to deserve it? The scene is a bad one. The nurse, knowing she has seconds at best, injects the tiny arm and it's done. The wailing continues but the worst is over. The ninja clings to me. The quiet one watches her sister cry and I can tell she hurts for her. There are scratch marks on my neck and a bite mark on my arm. She screams at me. The dog sleeps soundly on the floor.

As we make our way out of the doctor's office the crying slows down. We must sit in the waiting room for fifteen minutes should she have a reaction. She sits, her sister sits, her dog sits and I collapse beside them. With her giant blue eyes that little doll looks up at me and says three little words I never expected:

"Toy Store Now."


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