Wednesday, 17 October 2018

When our autistic son is sick

Thankfully our kids aren't often ill. Looking after little ones when they are a bit poorly is typical mother work and it's not that different when they are on the autistic spectrum, it's just sometimes a bit come complicated.

This post is by no means graphic but if you don't like reading this sort of stuff, better stop now.

David is a little poorly. He's got a slight temperature and was coughing oddly most of the night.  Over the years I've come to recognise this cough as his efforts not to be sick.  So I was not surprised when he was very sleepy this morning and then shortly making his way to the toilet to be ill.   He allowed me to put trainers on him and a coat and sat in the back of the car with a plastic box as I drove the rest of the family to school.   David actually handles being sick quite well.

His older brother Anthony, who is also on the autistic spectrum really struggled with the whole understanding of being ill. Even just a few years ago it was like having a eight year old sized toddler who was getting stressed because they didn't understand what was happening. He was frightened when he was just a little ill.

Autism and ADHD for Anthony can mean he focuses on one thing to the loss of all others.  And with the way he was feeling he would find it hard to listen to us trying to help him.  We used very basic language to help him hear and understand what was happening and what to expect. And like every parent we tried to reassure him.

Being ill just happens to David. There seems to be little fuss but it is a bit tricky.  The first few times in the past when David has been ill, it's been while he was in bed. He then immediately established what happened then as a routine - which meant for a while that no matter where David was in the house, if he thought he was going to throw up... he'd go and do it in his bed.  That's a lot of washing!

He is seven years old, however most of his communication is still limited. For David this means he mostly communicates to get what he wants, echoes some sounds, uses gestures and interacts with familiar people and in familiar situations. He is unable to tell us he is feeling like he's about to be sick, so we have to watch him and help him with routines.

Thankfully we've been able to help him understand that sick goes down the loo, or into a bowl... but preferably not in the bed if he can help it. He's also able to accept that sometimes he won't make it, but will worry afterwards and look for a cloth and towel to clean it up.

Both boys can now cope with change to their morning routine if David is ill. Anthony and Jane get dropped at school straight away (although we were still late) and I'm still a little surprised that David let me put his trainers on without getting dressed first!  It was also raining and I managed to get his rain mac on over his PJs too - miracle.  These might seem small but for David shows he's accepting difference and change.  And that's a great thing.. shame he's still a bit sick though.


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