Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dear Doctor

After four trips to three different doctor’s offices this past week, I have decided that most doctors’ offices are seriously in need of a redesign. And, they need to consult with us parents of children with special needs when doing the redesign.

For example, just separating one large room into two by using a row of chairs does not a sick and not-sick waiting area make. If you truly want to separate the children who are sick from the non-sick, two separate rooms, each with their own door, are needed.

If you wish to supply toys for the children while they wait, you need to follow daycare toy rules – wash them every evening in a bleach water solution – don’t include any soft toys like stuffed animals – and definitely consider that there may be children with vision and hearing impairments, autism, and other sensory issues. Also keep in mind that there may be children from infants to teens. My teen daughter really has no interest in your shape sorter toy.

It’s very nice if the office has automatic entry door (although most don’t), but what about all the other doors? Those of us with children in wheelchairs or walkers still have to perform acrobatics to get your exam room doors open or your bathroom doors open. And yes, most of you now have accessible bathrooms, but please consider that some childhood wheelchairs are huge, and that sometimes two adults are required to accompany a child to the restroom. Please make sure there is enough room for all the people and all the equipment.

If you supply books and magazine, please understand that many of our children with special needs love to tear paper. If you have a particular book or magazine that you cherish, don’t put it in the waiting room or the exam room. And about those exam rooms – I have yet to find one big enough to accommodate my child, her chair, her equipment, me, and another adult. As soon as I walk into the exam room, I turn into a furniture mover.

Also, I understand that many of the exams doctors perform require that a child lie on an exam table. But I can no longer lift my 14 year old daughter onto the table. If you really need her up there, we’ve got to come up with another idea, or at least 4 strong people.

I love my daughter’s doctors. They are some of the nicest, most caring people I have ever met, and I know they have my daughter’s best interest and optimum health at heart. But let’s not forget the practical side to caring for children with special needs…


Trish said...

Robbie isn't in a wheelchair, but there was a time we were carting a *LOT* of extra equipment with us (monitors etc) and the door thing makes me crazy.
Honestly, even if I just have him in a stroller, it's hard to get around- and yes, I need the stroller as his doctors are all in hospital medical buildings so it's usually a good mile walk to get there.

One of our closest friends has CP and uses his wheelchair frequently. Helping him get around was always very eye opening. Like a building that is technically handicapped accessible, but you have to go an extra hundred yards out of the way to GET to the ramp. Uhh.. thanks for that.

Grr. This is a sore point.

Corrie Howe said...

This is a great post! I think you should send the letter or at least send it to a local paper.

Anonymous said...

I can't attest to the accessibility issues, except that my husband has been in a wheelchair recently and we have had good luck with that in the doctor's office.

But, as far as the toy issue, I think that is the responsibility as a parent. It is not my doctor's office job to keep my child occupied. I don't assume that they have things my child is interested in.

Even as a parent of a special needs child I find it annoying that we expect everyone to be on high alert when me or my child needs something. It doesn't happen that way for "typical" kids all the time either. We need to take a breath and realize that life is hard and just because my child is disabled doesn't mean the world revolves around me.

Ashley's Mom said...

Anonymous, all of the doctors we visit see children without special needs also. The toys are provided for ALL children.

I am not asking for special considerations. I am asking that my daughter's rights be respected, and that she, as a person, be respected.

I would ask the same for you, for your children, and for all people.

KittyDobson said...

ok!! I am so excited about this post! It could take some time and some money but I think you could really have a niche in the special needs care market. I'm sure there are tons of doctors who would be willing to pa for services that will help bring in more clientèle . I really have no idea how you would go about it in the States, but I'm sure with all the people you know, someone would. I just think it's something you would be awesome at. Think about it!

Kitty :)

Azaera said...

Well said! You should send that post to the doctor's office in the form of a letter! And yes anonymous our children do deserve the same thing as the other kids! If they get toys why shouldn't my child get to play with toys in the waiting room too? Is it a lot to ask for that they buy a toy that has lights, or fun textures or something that may capture a child (with special needs)'s attention?

The Gang's Momma said...

Great post. While we have none of these particular issues inour family, I have noticed quite a few of them affecting other families in our pediatric offices. I do give ours props, tho - there is a separate room for sick visits. I just hate going in there when my little one only has a cold - sometimes I fear she'll come out sicker than she went in!!!!

Janet said...

I'm lucky, our ped's office does have 2 different waiting rooms for sick and well visits. There are no longer any toys. But I agree, if there were, they need to fit all kids. They do have books for the little ones, e.g. my 3rd and 5th graders won't read them. But they are old enough to bring their own when they have to tag along, or they are too sick to care.

The various specialist office's we visit vary. At one of the children's hospitals (Cardinal Glennon) they have push-button assist doors into the clinic areas.

My biggest gripe with Luke's ENT office (at a childrens hospital) is that instead of letting him stay in the waiting area where there are windows to look out and some large toy things, they will often stick him in exam room to wait. I really need to remember to ask how long the wait will be before we go back.