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What makes a good bedside manner for autistic people?

When people have a medical procedure or test it can be anxiety inducing. At our GP practice when you book these appointments on the online system, there is a section where you can enter any notes that you think are relevant. For me and my son, I always put "no small talk please". This isn’t because I am rude or standoffish, it is because I need to get the test done and that is going to take all my energy and executive processing.


Sadly this request is rarely listened too. On so many occasions my son goes for a blood test and the phlebotomist will greet us “you want us to just get on with it” and I reply “ yes please." For that moment I have hope, but within a few minutes the phlebotomist is in full flow telling us about their most recent holiday whilst son is getting more and more anxious.


They then change the topic, still oblivious to the carnage they are causing and start to tell him that blood tests don’t hurt. They might not hurt for some people but for him they do. I remind them on this point that everyone feels pain differently and that because of the number of blood tests he has had, they end up trying several times and often in less normal places e.g on the side of his foot or between his fingers. The response is often only seeking to dig the hole deeper and they say something like, “don’t worry I won’t have those problems” but minutes later they are proven wrong.


What makes a good bedside manner isn’t a clinician that talks and tries to bond with their patient, it is one who takes on board the needs of their patient and follows the requests of a patient and their advocate.


We had an amazing consultant who 100% understood what was needed - no small talk - concise information given at the right level and quick decision making. We worked with them for years and had no reason to complain or question their decisions or manner. Having an individual approach is always the best!



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