Patient view

Special needs require understanding, not restraint

Acting as a family advocate for someone with special needs can help defuse potentially volatile situations, says retired nurse Vanessa Martin, an RCN fellow and trustee of the RCN Foundation.
vanessa

Acting as a family advocate for someone with special needs can help defuse potentially volatile situations, says retired nurse Vanessa Martin, an RCN fellow and trustee of the RCN Foundation

My son, now 49, is on the autistic spectrum. He can speak but talking causes him stress, so he is apt to agree to every question so as to end the conversation. Medical staff often presume his positive answers mean he can make decisions for himself.

But he cannot communicate if he is in pain or where the pain is. He just becomes anxious and distressed. One reason my husband and I applied to become his legal guardians was to have more say over medical decisions affecting him.

Distressed

Any procedure that Jonathan needs has to be described or illustrated so that he understands, feels

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