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What I Want My Doctors to Know as Someone on the Autism Spectrum

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Dear doctors and medical professionals,

There are some things I wish you knew. I have autism. This can make some things more difficult for me. Change, waiting and communicating can be difficult — just to name a few. The medical setting can be intimidating for anyone, but as an individual with autism, I might find it to be even more intimidating sometimes. There’s just so much going on, so many people, etc.

I’ve found that some people in the medical world don’t always understand me or my autism. They don’t quite know what to do, or how to do it; it’s a learning experience for them, too. Autism may be unknown for those not on the spectrum, and anything unknown can be scary. Like my amazing doctor explained to me today, “It kind of makes them anxious and can be anxiety-provoking, similar to how you experience anxiety.” I thought about what Dr. Ann said, and it stuck with me, it made so much sense; yet it still disappoints me that there’s still so much work to be done when it comes to teaching others about autism. But I don’t stay disappointed for too long; I use it as an opportunity to make a difference and a reason to teach others.

Here are some things that I would tell medical professionals:

Please treat me like a person, like you want to be treated. See me for who I am. See my autism as a part of me but not all of me. Support me, but please don’t judge me.

Think about what it’s like in my shoes, and how scary the hospital or doctor’s office can be. Communicating how my body feels has always been difficult for me. When asked if something hurts or how it feels, I may reply I don’t know. It’s just so hard to put my body’s feelings into words. Be patient, give me extra time to type on my iPad. Please don’t rush me.

My parents and caregivers are often my interpreters. Please listen to them. Please don’t argue with them. They simply want what is best for me. Please help us figure out what’s wrong together as a team.

Please, try to connect with me. Try to help me. If you are unsure, ask. Please don’t give up on me.

I can teach you a lot as we travel along the medical journey. Sometimes it may not be easy, but it is rewarding. You will likely look back and know you made a difference. You might learn that I taught and helped you as much as you taught and helped me. Please know I’m grateful. I’m thankful, and I appreciate those who go the extra mile. You matter, you make a difference in my life. Thank you for being a part of a medical family I never expected to have.

Thank you Dr. Ann, and the rest of the clinic staff who have truly connected with me and helped me in so many ways. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Together we will teach others that anything is possible.

a woman with her doctor and two other members of her medical team
Chloe and her medical team.

The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to anyone you wish had a better understanding of your experience with disability, disease or mental illness. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: May 13, 2016
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