Hopeful Karla & Her Son

My Blythedale Experience

mother with child
Karla stands with her son, a former Blythedale patient.

Blythedale is a magical place with very special people working in every department. My family’s experience from admission to discharge one we will treasure forever….it was priceless. We will always cherish our memories in the month of October 2013.

My autistic son has late stage Lyme Disease and required an immediate 28 day infusion of antibiotics. As a parent of a special needs child, I was terrified of the entire scenario:  the surgical implant of the midline catheter, the daily infusion of the antibiotic, and, the 28 day stay in a hospital- away from home, school, family, his comforting routine and his loved ones. To complicate things more, my son LOVES school and to think he would not continue with his education and therapies was also a huge concern. The staff at Blythedale went above and beyond to help prepare my son for his 28 day stay by allowing him to visit the hospital before the surgery and hospital stay, to meet the staff, and experience life on the 2nd Floor which would be his home for the month of October. He also had the opportunity to visit the school: observing the classes, meeting the teachers and other students who were patients. ALL DEPARTMENTS (in the hospital and school) went above and beyond to help prepare my autistic son for his month long stay at Blythedale. This entire experience would be frightening for a normally developing child let alone for an autistic child with very limited expressive speech, frustration issues, sensory issues and repetitive behaviors. I was so concerned for my son - it is just the unknown…..All of my worries completely disappeared the second my son was admitted to Blythedale. Everyone was so kind, loving, helpful and supportive from the nursing and medical staff to the social worker, dietician, and school staff. It was like my son had been there for years. Everyone was briefed on his case and was truly interested in my son and what he was going through. They genuinely cared for my child and wanted him to have a positive and successful experience. For me, everyone comforted me and reassured me every day that my son would be fine- that he would do well. They contacted me daily with developments: medical, social and academic. I wanted to spend as much time with my son as possible and the Blythedale staff encouraged me to visit as frequently as I wanted and to even stay overnight with my son.

I think I was more afraid than my son……Parents are so hopeful, but understand how quickly a situation can go sour. We worry from the second we hear HOSPITALIZATION. But for some reason, I never felt that way at Blythedale. I was comforted, encouraged, supported and reassured from the moment I entered the building. I knew my son was loved at Blythedale. Each staff member is very special. They are extremely knowledgeable and experienced. They are AMAZING! I am deeply grateful and so honored to have my autistic son be afforded the wonderful experience Blythedale has to offer children and their families. It is a gift my son and our family will treasure forever. Each person we encountered touched our lives in such a special way we will never forget. My son keeps asking “Can I go back to the Hospital School? Next October?”.  I think that sums up our Blythedale experience beautifully.

--Karla Peterson