Blood Draws – are they fun for anyone? Well that’s an easy question to answer – No. Are they easy for children or teenagers? No. How about if your child has autism? Double no!!
I remember being pregnant with both of our children. Up until that point, I hadn’t really had many blood draws myself because I was pretty healthy. This was one thing I hated about being pregnant. My husband (back then) would always come with me to distract me. Even after giving birth when I had to go, he would make an effort to come with me as he knew I didn’t like it.
Our son had to have his first blood draw less than a year ago. To prepare, I watched some You Tube videos for kids (and kids with autism) and how best to explain it. I also printed off a social story to explain it to our son, so that he would be informed, but not afraid.
Before the first blood draw, I was sweating thinking about how I was going to explain it. I decided to show him a short You Tube video (because he loves You Tube). I also showed him a brief social story with step-by-step pictures. I went over it a couple of days before we were to go and then I brought the social story with me in the car and went over it one more time before we arrived.
We decided to go to Sick Kids Hospital to do this as they are used to handling all kinds of children and they have supports in place. Sure, it would have been easier and quicker to go to a closer lab, but you never know who you are going to get (I’ve been butchered more than once from a rough person!)
We made our way down to the hospital. We checked in at the front desk and then found the lab. Our son was looking around, taking everything in, not really knowing what to expect, but not scared either. I think I was sweating the most!!
We had to wait for a few minutes in the waiting room. Then we proceeded to another smaller room. The nurses were super-nice. There were two of them. They put some numbing solution on his arm and then drew the blood. Nine tubes!!!! It was a lot for a first time. He was a super-star!
It was a little uncomfortable but I managed to distract him with a new toy and the promise of shopping in one of the stores he had seen on the way in.
My heart was beating fast and I was glad once we made it to the store and I was able to calm down.
Lucky for us our son is tough! It is important, however, to explain exactly what you are doing so that your child knows what to expect.
Since our son is doing biomedical treatments, we have to go periodically to do blood work. We go to the same place and it has definitely gotten easier.
Now our son knows what to expect when we go for blood draws and he is very co-operative.
This is a hard thing for any parent, but a part of life we must deal with.
For children with autism, knowing what to expect from any experience is critical, so they stay informed and they feel comfortable.