What I’ve learnt about visiting A&E with a child with additional needs…

Well it finally happened. J had ‘the bump’ that needed A&E. Ever since he could crawl we have waited for the head injury that you couldnt just hug away. Today was that day. J fell backwards onto a gravelly car park around midday. He landed quite hard on the back of his head. 

It obviously hurt so we had a big hug. Usually J is quite a tough nut and has a high pain threshold but this one was a big one. He held his head and didn’t want me to put him down. We were on our way to the park so I thought I’d see how he goes (obviously used my first aid skills and did a check over first). 

By the time we reached the park (that child is not light!!!) I did another quick check. With children it is important to regularly check them over after head injuries. By now two bumps had come up and he was a graze on one and a small cut on the other. J had a cold compress and more cuddles. 


He then saw the playground and was cured. He went off to play and was perfectly happy. He wouldn’t eat his lunch but that’s not totally out of character-although he doesn’t usually turn down PomBears and Barney Bears so maybe that should have been the first warning sign.  

Now J won’t always react or talk about the pain he’s in. It’s part of his social communication difficulties. He will say his arm hurts when it’s a tummy ache, say he feels poorly when it’s a cut etc. Other times he just won’t acknowledge he’s even hurt himself and I have to chase him with a plaster or a compress! 

So it’s important for parents to know what signs to look for with a head injury.

When we got home from the park J snuggled on the sofa and spent rest of the day being quiet and just wanting to watching Cars 1 and 2 over and over. I just thought he was tired from the park. He went to bed and was asleep within minutes.

At 8.30pm he was calling for me and crying. I thought his night terrors had woken him but no, he was covered in sick. He shortly threw up again and was floppy. So I called 111 who advised us to go to hospital.

Concussions can be a nasty thing. I’ve had one myself and you feel awful. Vomiting is a sign of concussion so it was best to take J to be seen by professionals. 

Do you know what I realised? I have NO PECS for the hospital or emergencies! I don’t have body part pictures, medicines, doctors/nurses photos etc. I suddenly felt very unorganised. I packed up his symbols anyway and thought we’d improvise. 


On the way we talked about seeing the doctors/nurse so they can check his head. We took his comforter and favourite cars. This way he had things that were ‘known’. Once we reached hospital he was clinging to Daddy and wouldn’t look up. We got to the waiting room play area and he just paced up and down a little and then came back to mummy and daddy. This in itself is odd and he would usually be off exploring the toys with wheels. He didn’t even want his own cars.

We were very quickly called in. I explained to each professional who saw us about J’s additional needs and they listened. They were understanding that J was more comfortable on the floor with the pillows than the bed. The bed meant ‘sleep’ to him, and J did not want to have anything to do with it. 

They were very thorough and did a good check over. 

Here’s a good example of how children with social communication difficulties can be challenging. The nurse was asking him questions such as what colour at your eyes. J knows he has blue eyes. He regularly tells me he has blue eyes…in fact we all have blue eyes on in our house. But tonight J decided he had ‘red’ eyes. I worried that maybe it was the head injury as you do tend to talk crap with a concussion. But when the nurse left I asked him what colour his eyes are and he said blue. The difference was that he didn’t know this lady and he wasn’t comfortable with her looking him in the eye so he just blurted out a colour.

Anyway…they don’t think J has concussion (thankfully). They have said it’s a minor head injury and gave him anti-sickness medication, along with a 24hr open access pass and a list of signs to look for. J was visibly distressed being in the hospital and didn’t like the noises, other children crying and not being able to see out the window. It was better to take him home and go back if needed (we only a live a short drive away) rather than being admitted for monitoring.


(‘Drink medicine then go in the car, home’). 

J slept with me and Daddy got the sofa. This morning J is laying on sofa. He doesn’t want to get up, play or be away from mummy. I’ve had to carry him to the toilet as he didn’t want to walk (he’s a little unsteady). We’ve read books and watching Cars. We’re having a chill day so we can all recover.


So basically what I’ve learnt is:

-have emergency PECS in a safe place (just in case) or maybe make a key chain.

-make sure you tell each Professional about your child’s additional needs (you see a lot of staff and the info isn’t always passed on)

-do what’s best for your child, you know what will work for them (which is how we ended up on the floor). 

-Take distractions and home comforts. This is especially important for incase you do get kept in.

Right, I’m off to make some new pecs based on being poorly, hurt and needing doctors/hospital 🏥

Are there any more hints and tips you’d add to my list? Have you had the dreaded A&E moments? Comment below or FacebookInstagram or Twitter ❤️ 

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