Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Don't Sell My Son Short!

I read an article today that brought back to light the fact that parents of children with autism must never give up. We must advocate for our children, we must fight for them to have the things that other people take for granted. Including, but not limited to basic health care.
It's a sad reality that in this day and age when it's all about choices,  and alternatives, I had to go to THREE orthodontists to find one, that only after telling him that he had been my niece's orthodontist, and that he should not sell my son short because he did not know me (yes, he too did tell me that he thought GP "would not respond well to this treatment", as if anyone "responds well" to people yanking on their teeth, hello!?) He stopped short of telling me "He looks great with those fangs!" but was ready to escort me out before I gave him "the speech"and reiterated that my son does not stand alone, I stand with him and I KNOW that he can and will do, what he is taught to do. I told him that I had braces and that that orthodontic treatment is not rocket science. Oh, yes I did. I told him that my son brushes his teeth on his own, and he is SIXTEEN years old, and has never had a cavity... and THAT alone, should tell him how seriously we take dental health in my house. I told him that he was selling my son short and yes, I stopped just one sentence away from telling him, "You are discriminating against my son because he has autism!"After twenty minutes he said he would  consider the treatment and meet with me again in three months.... at which time he finally agreed to take him on as a patient. You'd think I was asking for charity, asking for free health care, or special considerations. I asked for none of the above. I asked him to stop prejudging my son... and he did, and for that I am grateful. I still see the reservations in his eyes when we go for follow ups but it's not a popularity contest, it's dental care. 
GP hates his "new look", but he no longer has fangs...AKA crowding. 
I wondered then (when I was arguing my case for treatment), and I wonder now, how many parents of typical children actually have to convince a doctor/ optometrist/orthodontist/etc. to provide basic care for their  child. I bet that not too many. Something as basic as braces, I mean, really? I took GP to two optometrists who told me he didn't need glasses.. and the kid is blind as a bat! REALLY? 
It was the THIRD optometrists who finally said, "It's not an autism tick, he needs glasses!" and just like that, he no longer squints... hello?
Yes, special needs children have "basic" health care problems, but did you know that autism is a "pre-existing condition", like heart disease, when we change health care providers?  Holy cow, I almost flipped when I was told that we might not be covered for some services because of GP's "preexisting condition". He has autism, not heart disease... but what if it was heart disease??? I could be in this Mom's shoes. Karen Corby has a story to tell, and you just have to have strolled in the special needs healthcare path to see that this could happen to any of us who have children (young men, as they are growing older by the minute!) with special needs. 
In this day and age, I am sickened to think that this could happen to my son; but I know it could, because I've already told more than a handful of healthcare providers, "Don't sell my son short!", and they always do.