“Because of our son Jack’s autism and sensory issues, one of the most difficult tasks for him is spending time at doctor’s appointments. Jack has a difficult time processing his surroundings and without language to communicate how he is feeling, he reverts to behaviors or actions to show us.
When we bring him, he has severe anxiety; accompanied by lots of tears, screaming, tantrums and sometimes self-injurious behavior. On more occasions than I care to admit, I have had to physically put myself between our boy and the floor so he doesn’t hurt himself by banging his head in frustration.
It is heart breaking.
Now, this may sound crazy…but because of this, in addition to all of his own appointments, I make sure to bring Jack to all of his siblings’ visits as well.
You’re probably thinking WHY?! Right?
Well, I do this in hopes to desensitize Jack to many of the things that set him off, to show him that his siblings are alright when the doctors check them out, and assure him that everything will be okay when it’s his turn to spend time with a doctor.
We work together with ‘first/then’ charts, lots of verbal reassurance, and a plethora of activities to distract while we wait, etc.
And even though he is just an observer, these appointments mostly consist of Jack yelling, ‘No Jack! No doctor!’ over and over again while I hold him tightly on my lap and feel his heart beating a mile a minute.
Inevitably there comes a point where I question myself and wonder why I put him, myself and the other kiddos through what seems like torture at times.
Then, there are rare moments in time where I take a step back and see the beauty in it all.
Hear me out…
Tonight at the girls follow up appointment from a procedure they both had, Jack had a slight melt-down after watching one of the doctors look in Maddie’s nose with a bright light.
As I tried to calm Jack down and squeezed him a bit tighter on my lap, his sister chimed in and said, ‘Oh Jack, Maddie is okay. I’m not hurt. Come give me a big hug!’ as she assured her anxious brother and encouraged him to go over to see her. This quickly became a sister sandwich after Olivia jumped up and followed suit to hug sweet Jack as well. ‘See Jack, Maddie is okay.’ Olivia whispered into his ear as she embraced him.
Watching his sisters affectionately stroke his hair, squeeze him with just the right amount of deep pressure that calms him, and verbally reassure him with sweet words just melted my heart.
You see, Jack’s siblings have learned to take on the role of making sure their brother is okay, comforted, unconditionally loved and supported. They have learned to not let judgmental stares or comments from others that we sometimes encounter deter them for a second.
Jack’s brother, Cam, uses his entertaining personality to distract from stressful moments;
His sister, Maddie, constantly has a variety of helpful tools at hand; and his sister, Olivia, uses her calm, loving ways to reduce Jack’s anxiety.
Not only are doctor’s appointments like these difficult, but many other social situations are as well. And, I have to say, his siblings step up and help out at every given chance. The maturity and compassion they exude on a constant basis fills this mama’s heart with more love and pride than I can adequately put into words.
In turn, Jack feels safe, loved and reassured by some of the most important people in his life.
How beautiful is that?
Our journeys all look so different.
But, whatever that journey looks like for you, when you’re supported and loved – gosh darn it, my friends, it makes a world of difference, doesn’t it?
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Vanessa France of Westminster, MA. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more powerful stories like this: