Dancing in Cornmeal

Life With Autism

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Lauren's DAN! Journal



February 13, 2002

We arrived well prepared for Lauren?s first appointment with her DAN! doctor. Having scheduled the 2 hour appointment a few weeks in advance, we received a packet of information in the mail, with a stack of forms to fill out. (Parents of kids with health problems expect this aggravating, time-consuming chore every time they seek help.) Besides the forms, the doctor?s instructions asked for what he referred to as the most important background information: a detailed patient history, listing and dating vaccines, illnesses and anything that may be pertinent to the child?s health history. I had never created one of these before, so I began going through all of Lauren?s health records, my journal entries, and even some chapters from my book. I ended up with a thorough, chronological listing of every "health incident" of which I had any record or memory. The history included notable information about my pregnancy with her and her birth. I listed her vaccine schedule and her many run-ins with ear, sinus, urinary tract and strep infections. I included all findings of practitioners we had visited, as well as what treatments we had pursued. I also inserted all of the educational programs we were pursuing at each point in the timeline. I did this as much for me as for the doctor. It would ensure that any changing "life" factors would be accounted for when coming to global conclusions about Lauren?s experience. It also provided me a complete history of Lauren, should any other person or organization ask for this information in a slightly different fashion. (It was a lot of work to compile, so I didn?t ever want to have to duplicate the effort.)

My work paid off. Craig, Lauren and I met with the doctor (whom I?ll call Dr. N. for simplicity?s sake)* in a sitting room at the end of a hall. As he read through the paperwork, he asked questions to clarify what I had written and to help him flesh out his thoughts. The doctor thanked me a few times for the history being so detailed and clear; it helped him to determine Lauren?s needs quickly. (Seeing as the doctor charges by the hour, I continue to be thorough with all paperwork, and this cuts down on the time he needs to meet with us.)

After the "talking" time, we took Lauren into an examining room, where Dr. N. gave Lauren a physical. (No, Lauren was not very cooperative. She was afraid, as she is for all medical exams. But Dr. N. was compassionate, spoke to her in a kind voice, and told her many times that he understood she was afraid.)

We left this appointment knowing that we would be collecting many samples from Lauren and sending them off to labs. Just this prospect seemed overwhelming, because getting blood, urine or stool samples from Lauren had proven very difficult in the past. Actually, blood?s the easiest, as long as you find a compassionate lab where they understand what it takes to get a sample from a child who?s scared to death of the procedure. We did, in fact, find 2 such labs for the 3 samples of blood that were required for the various tests. The urine and stool were much more difficult. After all, you can bring a horse to water, but . . . As soon as Lauren saw any "collection device" in a toilet, she could not relax enough to go. We finally got the urine, using some "First /Then" strategies, but the stool was another story. The child became very constipated. What?s very constipated? If you haven?t seen a sign of a BM in 8 days, you are very constipated. We had to stop trying to collect it if we wanted her to be healthy. Finally, a certain wonderful human being, who prefers to remain nameless, reached in there "at the moment" and collected some stool. Enough said. We got the final necessary sample for five separate lab tests. Much stress left our home as we waited for test results and our next phone appointment with Dr. N.


* I won?t give the name of Lauren?s actual DAN! doctor. If I have to report anything negative to our experience with the doctor or the protocol, I don?t want to have used this forum to sully his reputation.