A CASE OF AUTISM IN THE IMAGING DEPARTMENT

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Junior* came in the radiology department about a week a go to get an x-ray of his chest done. He appeared to be a healthy 13-year-old boy with his mother. I called his name, his mom answered. He made a swift turn almost hitting her when he called out in a somewhat muffled manner. It was then that I realized something was not right.

Both came into the room. I was ready to do the test so I asked his mom to take his shirt off so as not to get the buttons on my image. He was so reluctant but could understand completely.

He finally allowed his extremely patient mom to take it off however it didn’t stop there. He proceeded to take his pants off too. His mom allowed him to go straight ahead. I had entered his name and set up all parameters for the study to be successful; now I was just waiting to position him for his x-ray. That took what seemed like forever.

You see a child that age and physical built is hard to sedate for a seemingly simple test as this and if sedated wouldn’t yield the resultant image quality needed for completion of his Canadian medical. Junior would not lie on the table as you can imagine (sometimes, we would allow this as an option ONLY when all else fails).

Junior’s mind is so different and so unique that we needed to try to think harder to see how he thinks. This requires so much patience. As I tried to help his mom I couldn’t help but be in amazement. The mind of an autistic child is just, well…. amazing.

I solicited the help of a college. After just around a half an hour of talking, maneuvering physically, singing between my colleague and I. …Nothing worked. That was until I noticed that Junior now kept wanting to hug his mother. I thought “That’s somewhat the PA position I needed him in. What if Mom was given a heavy lead shielding and asked to hold the cassette, maybe I could use an out of bucky technique.” We  tried just that.

ALAS!!! It worked perfectly! I say perfectly because the radiologist who had heard what was happening thought we were going to be unsuccessful. He gave me a high five and I sent them on their way.

I couldn’t help but think though? What would my fellow public sector radiographers have done with their extremely heavy workloads in the day? Would they have had the patience with a multitude of other people outside waiting in an area without air condition etc? It would be hard for them to, as I know it would have been hard for me if I were placed in the same position.

I had come to the realization that special children deserve special attention and as such need special resources for themselves sometimes. I wished the government could invest so much more in the special needs of our special ones as not everyone can afford private care as well as a facility with the psychology to understand these, our dear ones.

*Name has been changed.

Kamala Anderson, Radiographer

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