In case you don't know, April is Autism Awareness Month, and because I have an autistic child who I worry about constantly, this story touched my heart immensely.
One Sunday night, our unit admitted a 94-year-old male whose adult Autistic son arrived with him. Robert and M were told in a report that this gentleman wanted to sign out against medical advice because he did not want to leave his son alone. Sadly, this man coded minutes after arrival to our unit and subsequently died. His Autistic son was in our waiting room when his dad passed away and, luckily, did not witness the trauma his dad endured.
Robert and M could have called Adult Protective Services to take over the care of the son, but they knew that this Autistic adult could not handle people in uniforms or those from APS and could not drive at night or in the rain. Instead, Robert & M allowed this man to stay in one of our empty rooms until morning, at which time Robert drove him home to await his sister's arrival from California. M woke early afternoon and called the sister to check on him because she tried contacting his home number with no answer. The sister said he was doing okay and that she would arrive the next morning to be with him.
As I heard Robert and M recall this story, I cried, not only as a nurse but also as a mother of an autistic child. I was moved that my colleagues would go above and beyond for someone who couldn't ask for help. I am not surprised, however, because that is what we as nurses do...care for people no matter the situation.