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SteelMaiden
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02 Jan 2013, 1:48 am

Has anyone here with an ASD been in a psych ward, and if so, what were your experiences?

I don't know why psychiatric nurses aren't trained in autism much, if at all.

I've had situations where I've been marched into a music therapy group by a nurse, despite my protests, and then subjected to loud music and a patient shouting. This caused me to have a meltdown. The nurses threatened to inject me and I ended up having to take 2mg Lorazepam as a compromise because they thought it was psychotic behaviour.

I went non-verbal several times on the ward during severe stress, mostly due to sensory overload, and I had things like a nurse saying loudly to me "you have the power to speak! So do so!" and then another nurse telling me how annoying I was being.

I had to get my occupational therapist to visit the ward and actually hand out leaflets about autism and talk to the nurses about it, in order to get them to understand. And even then, it didn't really work.

I had to get my autism advocate to fax a stern letter to the ward manager when I was put in a dorm with a noisy patient which caused me to have a massive meltdown (I actually tore a clump of my hair out in the process and gave myself a nosebleed), and I ended up being restrained and forcibly sedated. And even then, they refused to move me into a private room (and there were many private rooms).

Out of my numerous admissions, I've only come across one nurse who had training in autism, and that was because she voluntarily found the course and paid to go on it. She was lovely and she really helped me through the admission, doing one to one sessions with me a few times a week, and writing on my notes that I am not to be touched, restrained, spoke loudly to etc, unless I am physically endangering myself.

What are your experiences?


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Bubbles137
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02 Jan 2013, 2:31 am

I wasn't diagnosed as AS when I was in a psych ward, so my experience was different to yours. I found therapy groups really hard and hardly ever spoke, but don't remember ever being pushed to. I found the social side of it the hardest- the feeling that I was constantly annoying or affecting other people somehow but didn't know how or why, and because of being with the same people literally every day for several months, that was really difficult and was eventually the reason I discharged myself. I liked the routine side though, and even now (over 5 years later) I still stick to the same 'timings' as then. I'm not sure if that was helpful or not helpful (really didn't improve my already rubbish flexibility skills) and being there gave me more space to fixate on whatever I was interested in, but that was the time when I did the most reading about the subject that I'm now doing a PhD in so I'm not complaining about it. Wasn't the best experience of my life but learnt a lot from it, and that was ultimately where I found out about AS which has genuinely changed how I see myself (in a good way- I'm not just a naturally weird, selfish person and can understand a bit more why my social skills as a teenager were so rubbish and why I keep getting fixated on things). I wish there was more AS training/understanding though for adults- there's no services for it near me.



Chloe33
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08 Jan 2013, 12:10 pm

I have had several diagnosis over the past decade, and also had a stay on a couple of different psych wards. I have Bi-polar, ADHD, and HFA.

From the horrors i have seen, and been through on psych wards, they are the last place anyone on the spectrum would want to be.
The state run institutions are the worst of the worst.

The employees don't care what your diagnosis is, they will literally drag patients out of bed and throw them in the shower. I am being literal about this, there was abuse that went on constantly. Stronger patients would easily take advantage of weaker ones and most of the staff just didn't care. All they require to get the job of therapy aid is a GED or diploma. No other training necessary.

A ward would consist of many various different individuals with all sorts of diagnosis' regardless of their "levels".
At one point there was a pervert on the ward i was on and he raped a girl who was mentally retarded and would sleep with the women who were too "out of it" so the Sheriffs had to come. All they did was move him to the male ward across the hall. why this wasn't done to begin with was beyond me.

There is no group therapy that helps anyone. They play a boring video from the 70s about how to brush your teeth. This really benefits no one.
There are hardly any activities at all.
I made nice with staff so that they would lock me in my room so that i could read. If i wasn't locked in my room, i probably would have seriously freaked out. Thankfully i had no roommate.
There were so many horrific incidents that happened at this hospital (dubbed aka "The Snake Pit") for a reason back in the day.
The problem is that the staff doesn't care about individual differences, they almost think everyone the same and everyone has to listen or they'll get shot up with thorazine and or sent to the quiet room. Yes it's padded...

The staff that the patients deal with daily (therapy aids) are not trained in ANYTHING. All they have is their geds or diplomas from HS.
This in itself is a problem, state funding is likely a problem. The treatment teams were ignorant to work with in general. Doctors were unsure how to do certain paperwork. It was ridiculous.


The 2nd hospital i was in was across the river and wasn't as bad as the Snake Pit. The therapy aids were more caring and friendly. The ward i stayed on was specific, however it was safe at least.
I did notice the same problem with certain staff (and nurses) that they would rather shoot up someone with thorazine and drug them than to de-escalate the individual. There was one case of a patient who the therapy aid and i were trying to de-escalate and the stupid nurse insist on pulling the alarm for extra staff to restrain the girl. It was so ridiculous. Nurses think that drugging people and restraining them are the easy way out. The girl was having a psychosis thinking herself in labor and could have been talked down over time. she wasn't even acting violent.

So the pattern seems to be staff that is not trained to deal. And or staff that is too lazy to deal or talk with people so they drug/restrain them instead.

When i have been inpatient, i have always been respectful and nice to staff who is that way to me. When it comes down to it, patients are at their mercy when inpatient. I'd rather have a staff member on my side than not. (They would lock me in my room to read, and in the other hospital they would let me go into the quiet room to read for "alone time").

When you are a patient in a psych ward, you are constantly being "harassed" by others who have various problems, and there are no boundaries, people will be up in your space and everything asking for this and that. They will stare at you. Make you all around uncomfortable.

For severely Autistic folks, i would never want to see them in a psychiatric hospital as it is the worst places.
If it is some type of place that specializes in Autism, that would likely be the best.



Sweetleaf
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08 Jan 2013, 12:27 pm

I was in one for 5 days because I felt like ending it and had no idea how else to stop myself. It wasn't the greatest environment but not much worse then anywhere else I usually am except for not being able to go outside at all. I am not sure if I ever spend an entire day inside let alone 5. First day they took me of the clonzepam i was taking and it was a good thing to get off but it had withdrawl crap which almost had my voluntary status revoked because I ended up hitting walls and throwing things in my room but some how I calmed down enough not for that to happen.

So yeah I didn't really find it very helpful, got pretty much no sleep there but it prevented me from doing anything suicidal until I wasn't feeling like it so much. I am pretty sure if I stayed any longer it would have just made everything worse.


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Nathan1988
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08 Jan 2013, 12:51 pm

I have been in a psych ward 9 times and crisis center 7 times all in the last 4 years. I am diagnosed ASD, Bipolar and Anxiety disorder. While in the ward it was often very noisy and I actually asked to be put in seclusion more than a few times because it was too noisy and way to stimulating. I was having a meltdown in lobby last time I was in and nurse ignored me despite other patients asking if a nurse could get me my weighted blanket to help me calm down since patients aren't allowed in each others rooms. After nurse ignored me patients snuck into my room anyways and brought me my blanket after which I calmed down. A few times I was put in group rooms with 3 other people. Even though my primary diagnosis is Autism they still assume all my problems are from mental illness which is not the case and they do not honestly care in alot of cases. However I have had some great staff in those places as well who have honestly helped me. It is honestly hit and miss when it comes to staff. Some have been great and some have been horrible.



chlov
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08 Jan 2013, 1:33 pm

I've been only once in a psych ward. It didn't like staying there. I had better things to do at home.



YellowBanana
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08 Jan 2013, 4:16 pm

I have been in psychiatric hospital just the once for two weeks (Oct/Nov 2012) - an NHS acute care open ward. It was a semi-planned admission after a period of serious self harm and suicide attempts. My psychiatrist had tried everything to keep me out of hospital because they did not think I'd do well in there given my ASD.

I was in a dormitory with 5 other people. The first week they were all quite quiet people and left me to myself and it didn't bother me. I spent all my time in my bedspace with the curtain pulled round. The second week there were some different patients, one of whom was very loud ... this led to me having two meltdowns (kicking furniture, banging my arms etc). The staff were pretty understanding and they took me to a quiet room to calm down each time (and gave me a bit of diazepam) while they sorted out the loud person.

I was non-verbal quite a lot while I was there due to the unfamiliarity, but staff were aware of this as I often have to speak to my psychiatrist through typing. On the ward I always had pen and paper with me, and when I needed to "speak" to a staff member I wrote down what the problem was, and continued my side of the conversation in writing. For more formal appointments with psychiatrist or whatever, I used my computer. (Sometimes I was able to speak).

The other main problem was meal times. I didn't eat for 2 days, because we had to go to the dining room/day room. There were only 28 people on the ward but it was still too chaotic and overloading an environment for me. Then one of the nurses came along to my bedspace after the evening meal and asked if I was hungry. I said yes. So she went to get me some leftovers but came back with with a big packet of biscuits while one of the other nurses sorted out leftovers for me. The nurse who brought the biscuits and I had a chat while my leftovers were being sorted and once she understood why the dining room was so difficult for me it was arranged that I would go in and get my meal once everyone else had been served and take it back to my bedspace to eat. That way I had to challenge myself to enter the dining the room and get my meal, but then had the safety and quiet of my bedspace in which to eat. After that, some days it took me 10 minutes outside of the dining room to psych myself up to go in to get my meal which was quite stressful, but overall I think it was a good arrangement.

Overall I think I had a fairly positive experience while in the hospital, although I don't think it has had any lasting effect on my mental health - which is still very bad.


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seaturtleisland
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08 Jan 2013, 9:31 pm

I was in an inpatient unit recently after I tried to kill myself on Sept. 20 this year.

It was nothing like what Chloe says she experienced.


The unit I was in was called "General B". General B was for mood disorders such as bipolar and depression. People dealing with psychosis that require more security are placed in "General C". You can have a psychotic disorder and be in General B if you have already found the right medication to function properly but you are also struggling with a comorbid mood disorder. There were two other patients that I knew of in General B that had significant psychotic symptoms. One patient was Schizotypal and I think the other was suffering from Major Depression with Psychotic features.

Nobody I met in General B was 100% lost or out of it. All my interactions with them were meaningful.

Socialization was easier than anywhere else because I was stuck in the same building with people 24/7. I made more friends in General B than I have in all other places combined. Unfortunately most of us are now either in outpatient followup or aftercare and we're discouraged from meeting outside of treatment.

I've broken that rule with a couple of people.


As for the hospital's knowledge of Autism, they weren't that bad. My outpatient therapist and I have been talking about how my Autism and OCD interact with my Depression. Depression aggravates my OCD and my Autistic tendency for fixation makes me more prone to negative ruminations than someone with just Depression. Autism is definitely taken into account and acknowledged.


I didn't have a bad time in hospital.



Verdandi
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08 Jan 2013, 9:44 pm

I have a lot of anxiety about psych wards, and there are times I really should have been admitted to one - mostly when I am at my most suicidal. Since this is one of those periods, it's on my mind right now.

I think I may discuss the matter with my therapist.



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08 Jan 2013, 10:17 pm

I have been in the hospital many times in my life (6 or more... I don't exactly remember) and there have been times that they helped and others that it was hell. The worst one was on my birthday several years ago. I had bullies... yes bullies who picked on me. Talked about me behind my back. They called me a liar. They called me fat, and constantly made fun of how big my butt was. There were nasty people there. The doctors didn't help much, in fact they threatened to send me to a state hospital, basically blaming me for the problems and agreeing with the bullies. I then had flashbacks about other times I was bullied. Everything's great in the world right now, don't you see? Its clear. Bullies are evil. I am on a computer. I have swirling thoughts and background noise. I am scared mom is getting sick again. There is a chance that my dad needs real surgery. We have a water leak that I predict will cost thousands of dollars. Yes, dollars. The green stuff. My hair is all over the place. I am trying to help, not relaxed though. The worst thing to be called in my name of the game is being a liar. The world does that about me. Cyber bullied about that as well humiliating me in front of the world with people watching. Right now I am crying. It is because I am real. I hate the mental hospital its so boring in there. And then having doctors that don't believe me. Basically laugh and downplay everything. I hate when the news downplays things because then it renders it unimportant like me. Invalidating me is what the docs do. I am finding a doc.. a new doc. The thing that I have a good psychologist that understands autism. When my dad retires then we might move to Florida in a dump and in a bad area. Stress is building up right on schedule, the world is also right on schedule. I hate loud noise. I have to wear my earplugs and when I am getting stressed out it gets worse, the slightest sound freaks me out and I gotta bring out the earplugs. I predict great things for the world this year. Right on schedule. My brother is annoying but I love him anyways. OK.



Bubbles137
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09 Jan 2013, 2:40 am

seaturtleisland wrote:

Socialization was easier than anywhere else because I was stuck in the same building with people 24/7. I made more friends in General B than I have in all other places combined. Unfortunately most of us are now either in outpatient followup or aftercare and we're discouraged from meeting outside of treatment.



I can relate to that from my second admission- I made really good friends with one woman who was there for the same amount of time that I was, and am still close friends with her 7 years later. Luckily, we were not discouraged (that I know of) to meet up. I found the other admissions a lot harder socially though because there were more people (that time, there were only four in my section then they increased it to eight) and I couldn't work out how not to annoy people/affect them without meaning to which is really difficult when you're with the same people all the time for several months.



qxeerrobinhood
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09 May 2016, 8:59 pm

Just to preface this I am a minor (I had just turned 17 almost two months before) in southern California so that may have something to do with my experience
February 1st, 2016 (just a few months ago), I was asked if I wanted to go into a psych ward (if I said yes I would get to go to the ER/hospital in my parents' car but if I said no I would have to go in a police car) and I was stuck in the ER (admitted into the ER at about 10pm or 11pm that night) for quite a while because my mom mentioned that I'm autistic and no place was willing to give me a bed. Finally when my mom specified I was diagnosed with Aspergers (which now is an obsolete term in the medical field), I finally got a bed and i got to the psych ward at about the time they were eating dinner (about 4pm or 5pm) February 2nd. Because of my experience, I thought that people with autism were not allowed to be admitted into psych wards but this thread proves me wrong.


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TheAvenger161173
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10 May 2016, 10:34 am

Several times. Each instance before I was diagnosed with HFA. First was in 1995 after a psychotic episode that was drug induced. It lasted for months. I was in the hospital for 8 months. Then went to stay at an open house type psych facility for 10 months. I was back in at the end of 95. Then back in with another psychotic episode(not drugs) in 1998 for 3 months. The last time was 2012 for 7 days. I had a panic attack that lasted from Thursday till the Monday. I wouldn't get a break from it. I was admitted and told I had a panic disorder,G.A.D and de realisation and depersonalisation issues. Was diagnosed with HFA last August. A lot of the anxiety,panic etc has triggers many linked to HFA. Hospital treatment was terrible up until 2012. In 2012 the services were superb in terms of treatment . I had a suicide attempt last year where I was put in touch with services again,The services have improved dramatically. The Drs,nurses,cpns,occupational therapists have all been exceptional. They have a genuine sense of wanting you to do better and see you improve well being. I can't praise them enough. I got the diagnoses after a dr and nurse recognised some behaviours and quizzed me on them,then put me in touch with the ASD specialists. Many of my behaviours and traits would likely not been recognised in the 90s,or been wrote off as anxiety based,mood etc I can't say enough good things about the care. From speaking to several people I've heard the treatment in the area I live is some of the best in the UK.



Tawaki
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10 May 2016, 10:44 am

My husband was in a psych ward.

He said it was easier than home because everything is decided for you, and so you did it.

Get up at a certain time.
Eat at a certain time.

For groups, he made himself be the first one to speak (so they could chart he was participating), and the staff left him alone during the rest of the group.

As for training, don't you know Autism dissappears when you are 18, so why should adult psych worry about it? Anyway, Autism is usually not in the scope of psychiatric training (or much of it). I'm kidding about the first sentence, but adult ASD people don't count in real life.

They don't send people who are barely verbal to inpatient psych since they can't participate in most of the groups. If it happens, it's to stabilize them on medications then ship them out.

My husband said he didn't have many issues. Shrug.



lostonearth35
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10 May 2016, 11:04 am

It was horrible. I hope I never have to go through that ever again. When you're not forced to take drugs or getting stabbed with injections for crying and having meltdowns, the boredom is hideous. And I hate having things decided for me. I hate being told to get up and eat when I'm exhausted and can't bear to look at food, especially hospital crap. I hate being told to sleep when I'm going to be up all night anyway. And I REALLY hate the lack of privacy, the constant personal space invasion, and having to listen to another patient calling me a son of a w**re every two seconds until I finally snapped and cursed and screamed at her, made the staff lock me up.

The security is a real joke, however. At least twice I just walked out of the hospital and went back home and they didn't even notice. Or care, more likely. They were probably like, oh good I'm glad that evil b***h is gone, I hope she kills herself. :(

Psych wards are not a good place for someone with Asperger's, which they could have cared less about when there were other patients with severe schizophrenia and bipolar and suicidal behavior, whom they just drug up as much as humanly possible to keep them from being a danger to themselves and others.