I’ve learnt something this week: Man Flu is NOT the most melodramatic response to a common cold virus!!! Nope. Far worse is ASD Flu!!!
Kids being ill is never fun. But an ASD kid with a cold? It takes it to another level!
1) Outgoing: Bodily Fluids
With luck with your normal child you get a bit of a heads up that they’re going to vomit. Not with SP! The first we knew was as the vomit flew from his mouth as he laid on my chest!!! I did well not to throw him across the room as a knee-jerk response. Husband meanwhile just stared. “HELP MEEEEE!” I cried. More vomit – I was covered. SP was covered in splashback as I tried to catch it in a tissue, whilst he tried to swallow it back. Grim doesn’t come close!
Oh, and on matters of all bodily fluids, normal kids won’t want to sit in whatever liquid they’ve expelled from their body. SP on the other hand, has howled every time I’ve removed him from a damp patch that’s leaked from his nappy and wiped bogies or bottoms. Seriously, little buddy, it’s better to have a house that smells of Dettol than one that smells of sewage!
2) Incoming: Food & Meds
Normal child poorly? Adjust their diet accordingly and administer meds as required.
ASD child poorly? Calpol is squirted into mouths, but then dribbled out as swallowing is just not happening. Or sometimes the middle man is cut out and the Calpol doesn’t reach their mouth. Just squirt into clothes/furnishings instead.
Meanwhile, no food passes their lips for days! The limited diet that SP normally demands (chocolate buttons, chip shop chips, cucumber and crisps) is rejected. And it’s replaced with…nothing. SP is already on the skinny side. He’s skin and bones by the end of this week and I’m at my wit’s end.
A Google search for help as to how to deal with this and…nothing!!! Realisation dawns: Google doesn’t know how to get food into an adamant ASD child! Since when does Google not know something?!!! I read various blogs and keep reassuring myself that he’s drunk enough red juice to sink a ship so we’re a little bit away from wasting away completely.
3) The Worry Factor
Looking at him though, you’d think he was at death’s door. All he’s wanted to do is lie down. He NEVER wants to lie down, even several hours after a reasonable bedtime. Normally the only place he’ll nap is in the car, but this week he’s dozed wherever he’s landed.
Moreover, he’s not only rejected food, but all the things that he normally obessess over. I’ve had a week’s reprieve from the Tinkerbell/Curious George/Frozen trilogy that is required viewing every evening. Even his iPad has been on the same battery life since Thursday!!!
So laying down and staring into space it is. With a normal child, these dark times come at night (usually just after the GP surgery shuts, peaking around 3 a.m.). With an ASD child it’s all day – and all night – for days. Nothing adds to parental concern like total shutdown. Just two big, dark eyes wrenching your soul.
This does at least mean there’s the opportunity to talk to the GP. But unless they can come up with a cure that doesn’t require doing anything to a resistant child then it’s not going to do any good. And chances are the advice is going to be ‘administer Calpol and keep up fluids.’ Back to no.2 then, with a hellish trip to the surgery thrown in for good measure.
But at least all this languishing is non-demanding, right? Err, no. It’s been accompanied by constant requests for big cuddles. So I’ve been sofa/bed bound too. The washing pile has transformed into a moutain and SP is out of clean trousers to wear. Unsurprisingly, I seem to now be coming down with his virus too. That washing mountain is only going to get bigger, although the big eyes effect isn’t working for me in terms of sympathy.
4) The Sound of Silence
Thanks to the joy of sensory overload and lack of appreciation for general chit-chat, we’re used to a reduced level of talking in the house. But usually this is confined to anything directed at SP. What happens around him doesn’t bother him so much. But when he’s poorly it’s ramped up to the nth level. Whilst attached to the sofa, pinioned by SP’s little body, I’ve been able to make NO NOISE WHATSOEVER! Conversation with other family members is a no go. Even whispered instructions are out. Receiving a phone call – you’re kidding, right?
Funnily enough though, the wailing at any spoken sound is far more of an assault to the ears, but doesn’t seem to bother him at all. Go figure!
5) Dragging it out
Normal child: maybe a couple of days feeling unwell, a night of a scary high temperature that’s gone by the time you can ring the GP and they’re back to normal, bouncing on the bed rather than resting in it. Or, sometimes, they wake up feeling wretched, you give them the day off school/nursery, dose them with Calpol and PRESTO! Half an hour later they’re fine and you wonder why you went to all the fuss of rearranging things at work.
ASD child: let’s eke this bad boy out. The period of feebleness is easily doubled, thus also doubling the level of concern and inability to achieve anything outside of patient care. It’s a good job he’s cute, because normally my patience would be wearing thin a week on.
Mercifully, we seem to be getting to the tail end of our traumas this time round. He’s back on his iPad and has a) eaten some crisps and b) smiled his first smile since last Sunday. Hopefully within a day or two he’ll be completely back to his usual self and I’ll wonder what all the fuss was about. All routines will be back in their place and I’ll have the Pirate Fairy song stuck in my head again. But, it turns out, SP isn’t the only one who likes predictability as at least I’ll know when I can crack on with that washing pile.