When it comes to autism the world is already overloaded with an incredible amount of facts, myths, and misconceptions. I don’t want to add to the overload. I do, however, want to share information that I find many people I’ve encountered don’t know or haven’t thought about. One such subject is what to do in case of emergencies. On rare occasions, I get to sit and chat with other moms who have disabled children. We talk about the usual drudgeries of housework, meal planning, work woes, endless errands and sleepless nights, but we never talk about emergencies and what to do. So I figure this is a great place to start the conversation.
My son is a teenager diagnosed with autism, epilepsy and is non-verbal. I’d like to think of my self as a fairly savvy mom, having all the checks and balances when it comes to my son’s needs. I even posted information on his bedroom door for what to do should he have a seizure along with my contact information in bold font. And then my son has a really bad seizure. I managed to keep my head together while talking to EMS and comforting my son. One of the Paramedics noticed the information I posted. He said it was good that I had information posted, but it would be better if I had more of my son’s medical history and medications posted as well. Until that moment, I had not given any thought to posting that much information because they could always get the information from me. What if I wasn’t home? Would my son’s caregiver know what information to give? No. She would have to call me or the QP (Qualified Professional)and hope one of us would be able to answer the call. I don’t ever want to be in that position. So I took the paramedics advice to heart and came up with this list of information to post.
Primary Care Physicians
Hospital of Choice
Medical Record Number
Date of Birth
Guardianship Information (for adult children)
Experience with First Responders (good or bad)
Ability to tolerate exam and IV catheterization
Interests/Methods for Calming
Dietary Concerns/Food Allergies
Next of Kin
Emergency Contacts (at least 3)
Another thing you can do is check with your local MCO (Managed Care Organization) or NAMI (National Alliance On Mental Illness) to see if CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) is available in your area. If CIT is available, check to see if they are trained on how to help patients and individuals having autism or other I/DD. It may be beneficial to request a CIT trained first responder when making a “911” call.
When making a “911” call It is important to share pertinent information so dispatch can send appropriate help to you. Let them know the following:
Best Way to Communicate with Patient
Ability for Patient to Understand Instructions
Methods for Calming
If the patient is taking psychotropic medications
If the patient has experience with emergencies/first responders
Create your own Medical information list or use Vial of Life http://www.vialoflife.com/how_to_use_the_vial_of_life/. You can place it on your fridge, in your car, carry it in your purse or put it in an emergency kit. Order as many as you need. It’s free!
Also, it would be a huge help for you have your medical information available should you have an emergency and an emergency kit for your child/loved one. Emergency kits should contain the following:
Medications (at least 1 weeks worth if possible)
Changes of clothes
A couple favorite items
Instructions for food preparations if on special diet
A re-loadable visa gift card for purchases