Monday, October 17, 2011

When sick is fine

Yesterday msk came down with some sort of minor bug. Nothing too much, just some sniffles and a desire to lay down. Also, not eating as much, which is pretty noticeable when a certain almost 13 year old typically eats constantly on weekends.

Not too long ago, being a little sick would have meant anger and frustration and me really not getting what was going on until a touch told me he had a fever and it would all snap in place. Yesterday was different though. Our weekly grocery trip went fine with no temper at the long line. When we got home the hub said "I think he's coming down with something." Msk was lying on the couch and not devouring the croissants that we bought at the Safeway. When I asked him how he felt he responded thoughtfully (as opposed to a rote "fine") "I feel sick."

I'm sure this sounds like nothing to most people, but the idea that msk could express how he feels, without suggestions or guesses, made me want to weep with joy. Watching your kids get sick is hard to take, but the fact that msk could never tell us how he felt, never say if the medicine was working... it broke my heart. I really wondered if he would ever be able take care of himself if he couldn't access abstract physical sensations and verbalize them to others. Rightly or wrongly, it seemed like a life-threatening deficit to me.

And then - in a single incident - *poof*, deficit gone. Through the day we talked about "laying down since you feel sick", "taking a pill (ibuprofen) to help you feel better", "maybe missing school if you still feel sick tomorrow." I know that all of this is pretty standard, but it felt like a miracle to me. No mystery or melt-downs.

There were still some issues. I'm not to sure if there was any origin of feeling sick, like a sore throat or stomach-ache. There was no putting off homework since school the next day was in question. Msk remains firmly attached to routine and there's no way he was going to bed without finishing his homework. As an aside, those homework passes because you’re doing well in a class? For a kid who is stuck on routine and loves the fact that he does well in math? They're never going to get used. A sticker or a high-5 would feel more like positive reinforcement.

Anyway... Bed time came a little early after a day of reduced eating (but not fasting) and mainly laying around. This morning he was sure he was OK to go to school and his appetite seemed to confirm that. Both of us are doing pretty well today.


  1. First, this piece was both beautiful and heartbreaking. The little but huge things.

    Secondly, did you see 60 Minutes tonight and the use of IPads with children with autism. Very interesting. Wondered what you think.

    Thanks for blogging.

  2. I missed the show, but I watched the segment on line. It was very moving. I bought my first Apple device (an iPod touch) specifically for the Proloquo2go program they featured. For msk there was no communication breakthrough - he basically used it to be echolalic through a device instead of his mouth. On the other hand, he was instantly fluent on it and loved all the apps and the interface. He's always been a computer wizard, but the portability and touch interface made this a perfect calming and take everywhere tool. We've also purchased an iPad - it's used by everyone in the house (see my 10/28 post picture). The best thing about msk and these devices is that they prove how smart he is to everyone. I'll always be grateful to Steve Jobs for that.

  3. In case anyone is interested in reading the 60 minutes article or watching the segment, here's a link to CBS:


I love comments. Ads, on the other hand, will be deleted.