We’ve had various ways of handling the identification situation with PJ down through the years. He doesn’t like to wear anything around his neck, so we had ID necklaces that he was constantly taking off. (He did keep them on when he was with his classmates who were also wearing them). It was the same thing with ID bracelets. He was better at not removing ID pins because they didn’t seem to bother him as much.
After he became an adult, I relaxed about the ID situation because he is never alone in the community. He has official state ID, but it is never in his possession because we had extra obstacles obtaining it. I want to make sure that we always know where it is, and with his habit of taking ID off, I didn’t want to take any chances of it getting lost. What is important to us is not what is important to him!
I wasn’t really concerned about his ID until lately. The transport van that picks him up for his day program was involved in an accident. They called me to inform me of the accident and to let me know which hospital he had been taken to. I was praying as I rushed to the hospital that no one was seriously injured.
When I got to the emergency room, PJ was stretched out on the hard backboard that accident victims are placed on. He was in a neck brace and had an oxygen tube in his nose. He was uncomfortable, but my prayers were answered and he wasn’t injured. I am so proud of his maturity, because the younger PJ would have been aggressive and hard to control. He was calm and quiet and smiled when he saw me.
The problem was that he was listed as “John Doe” because he couldn’t answer any questions. I did get a chance to talk to the driver who was also in the emergency room. She, too, wasn’t seriously injured and was worried about PJ and her other passenger who is also non-verbal. She said that a car ran a red light, hit them, spun them around and they kept on spinning before they hit something and came to a stop. Everyone was dazed but she did manage to give the emergency technicians the names of her passengers. The accident was shown on the news and one of the vehicles had a lot of damage, so it could have been much worse.
We don’t know what happened to the information, but once she and PJ were put into separate ambulances, he was on his own. Of course, he wasn’t answering any questions. He wears noise blocking headphones and one of the ER doctors said that he thought that was why PJ wasn’t answering questions. (You know how typical our autistic people look). He took the headphones off and found that PJ still couldn’t answer questions.
Everyone was relieved when I got there, including me. I felt that the doctors did a good job of checking PJ out and I was very grateful that there were no injuries. I was very grateful that PJ was pleasant and co-operative during the poking and prodding. He even took his tetanus shot with dignity. It hasn’t always been like that. Some of my worst experiences with PJ have been on doctors’ visits.
PJ could have been John Doe for far longer than he was. Talk about something that I had not foreseen. If he is not with someone who can speak for him and he doesn’t have ID, he becomes John Doe. I had not thought of this because he is always with someone. I had forgotten about “in case of emergency”.
I am now pinning ID to his coat and hoping he will let it be. I am now trying to teach him that it is important. Maybe his John Doe experience will help.
Until next time; May the favor of God be upon you as it was on us.