Nothing is easy with autism. Every aspect of a child’s life – and a family’s life – is affected. It’s when the child is sick, though, that a parent feels the most helpless.
Peter has been sick with fever and vomiting for about 24 hours now. Last night, we had no warning that he was coming down with a bug – if that’s what it is – other than a slight dip in appetite at dinner time. He didn’t eat all his grilled cheese sandwich and applesauce. That was the first red flag. Peter loves to eat! At bedtime I noticed that his eyes were a little droopy, and I felt his forehead. It was hot. I took his temperature with a “behind ear” thermometer (the only kind he will tolerate) and – sure enough – he had a fever of 101 degrees F.
A fever is more concerning with Peter than it was for our older boys. This is because he will not take medicine to bring the fever down. We’ve tried everything – sneaking it in juice, in applesauce, and we even tried to squirt it into his mouth with a medicine dropper. We couldn’t even get the dropper into his mouth. If he doesn’t want to eat or drink something, there is no forcing him. He clamps his mouth shut like a vise and no amount of coaxing or strong-arming will get him to open his mouth. He is a strong and stubborn boy.
Throughout the night his fever kept climbing and he vomited a few times. When his fever reached 103.5 degrees, I resorted to using an Acetaminophen suppository. No easy feat, I tell you! Those things are not extremely effective, but it did bring the fever down enough for Peter to be able to sleep.
He has been in bed all day today. Those of you who know Peter realize that this is very unusual. Normally he doesn’t stay in one spot for more than a few minutes. He has been pitiful, whimpering sometimes and holding his head. This is the sad and frustrating thing – we know he is hurting and we know he is miserable, but he can’t tell us. He can’t tell us what hurts or what feels wrong. He is slowly being taught body parts, but his communication skills with his Talker are not far enough along for him to be able to tell us when something hurts.
As a parent, not being able to help your child when he or she is hurt or sick is devastating. It’s even worse when the child can’t communicate his misery and doesn’t understand what is happening to his little body. God forbid any major illness should ever befall Peter, because that would be a true nightmare.
Peter is improving, but if things worsten tonight, we will take him to see the pediatrician in the morning. Meanwhile we will make him as comfortable as possible and we will pray for the return of his good health.
Our hearts go out to all parents whose children are ill!