COVID Testing with Autistic Children and Karens Don't Mix

In this current society, COVID 19 makes things a little more difficult. We have to keep our families safe while safeguarding their mental health at the same time.

It is public knowledge that COVID had its visit in my household.  In lieu of waiting hours in a car with my 6 children in two different cars, we waited until CVS had an open appointment to test in their pharmacy drive through window. This way I could assist my children and it would be a more positive experience for them.

Last week I took A, Bug and Roo to CVS and my husband took my other three children to a different CVS. Bug and A are both autistic and need assistance with the nose swabs. Roo is ADHD and is independent. In order to have them all tested at once, we made the appointments one right after another after another.

We were waiting in the line. It did take longer than the appointment time. We knew it would because testing multiple people in the same vehicle takes more time. The kids brought devices to keep themselves occupied.

After 20 minutes, it was finally our turn. The pharmacy tech was really patient and really compassionate. I explained how I had to assist two children and one is independent as Roo is 12 years old. Bug is a sensory avoider. He REALLY struggles with the covid tests. The swab has to have contact with his nose for 10 seconds. The tech let me give him a break every 2 seconds. This way he would not get overwhelmed and go into sensory overload.

After we were done with Bug’s first nostril, there was a blonde older lady in her 60’s in a car behind me. She yells to me “Can’t you do that inside? I’m waiting!!!!” Then with my no filter mouth I yelled back,”No! This is a COVID test and it is done in the drive through for a reason. My children are autistic and this is really hard for them.” Then Bug yelled out,”Yeah, Karen!”

Bug had said I was allowed to disclose his diagnosis if it was to make a point. He is just as outspoken as I am about things. In all intents and purposes, he is my mini me.

Bug knew he needed help and he knew this was hard for him. To anyone looking in, they would see him resist me swabbing his nose. That is not how it was. Bug was trying to cooperate but the sensory stimuli was so challenging for him.

When it came time to help A with a swab, he was giggling when I was swabbing his nose. He did not need a break. He is a sensory seeker. Both boys are autistic and have completely different needs.

This is a hard time for many people, not just autistic people. Even neurotypical people struggle with this test as it is uncomfortable. Do not judge a situation without knowing the situation. If the person in the car behind us showed the same amount of patience we showed the car in front of us, this would not have happened.

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