Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘sickness

Behaviour Is Communication

with 22 comments

I didn’t come up with this idea.  It was….ooh, can’t find it.  Probably Skinner though, sounds like one of his.  Feel free to let me know in the comments, I don’t have time to find out this week.  Anyway, behaviour is communication.  I know that.  I’m a Spectrummy Mummy.  I know these things because we get a nice little manual explaining everything with the diagnosis.  No, I’m just messing with you.  I know this through learning the hard way.  There never is an easy way, now is there?

So just to be clear, I know that behavior is communication.  Right?

I also know that my girl has a pragmatic language delay, and that her senses create a bunch of mixed signals, which cause her to be disconnected from her body.  Yep, I know that.  I know things, see.

On top of this, I know my girl.  I know my girl.  I don’t claim to always understand her, but I do know her.

Still, on Monday, all I saw was a terrible day.  I knew her sensory issues were driving her behavior, but that seemed to be all I could see.  She was more impulsive, compulsive, destructive than I’d seen her in a very long time.  I asked myself why, but I guess the part of my brain that figure out these things was too busy trying to deal with the chaos.  Because unregulated Pudding is chaos.  Impulsive, compulsive, destructive chaos.

She was ill.  She felt wrong, and was compelled to make herself feel right, with her sensory-seeking ways.  When they didn’t work, she didn’t stop, she just kept going.  Desperately trying to make it better, angry with me and herself for not being able to fix the problem.  She can’t tell me she is ill, in fact, she says the reverse when I ask her.  Experience has given us clues.  If she talks about wanting to clean her mouth- get a bucket, she is less than 10 seconds away from vomiting.  If she wants to lie down, or needs a blanket, or tells you to clean it up, she is ill.  She’ll tell you she is not sick if you ask her, but she is.  You just have to read her behaviour.

So I can’t tell you why I didn’t think she was ill on Monday.  That I didn’t interpret all that behavior as communicating that basic fact.  If I’d known, we’d definitely have skipped speech therapy.  Who needs that when they are ill?

Yet, aside from that, I wouldn’t have done anything different.  When she got into the fridge and began smearing food everywhere, I found some tactile activities for her.  When she jumped on the sofa and the bed,  I directed her to the trampoline.  When she asked for hugs, I gave them.  When she pushed me away angrily, I let her.  When she screamed, I was calm.  Not a natural calm, but a learned, forced, necessary calm.  A calm almost two years in the making.

I’m not a saint, I was ready for a drink when Daddy walked through the door, I whined to him about all the gory details of the day.  But I’m also a little wiser than I used to be.  I know that behaviour is communication.  And even when, especially when, I can’t understand hers, I need to make sure I’m communicating the right thing.  That I’m here, even when she pushes me away.  That I can’t always make it better, but I will always try.  That when her world feels terrible and different, I will be constant.

You know though, if I could go back two years ago to that Mummy who didn’t know, I’d whisper in her ear what I know now.  Behaviour is communication.  Somebody (damn it, who?) very important came up with that, but before you even try to understand Pudding, you’d better look at your behaviour first.  You can read all about it in this manual.  Nope, just kidding!  Still no manual, sorry.  I keep finding there is still so much I just don’t know, even when I know it.


Today you’ll also find me at The SPD Blogger Network.  Come over and read and share.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

April 7, 2011 at 6:43 am

Sick to Death

with 33 comments

I’d been looking to going out for my husband’s birthday for…..well, since whenever the last time was I got out of the house without the kids.  The fact that I can’t remember when that was speaks volumes.  This has just been a rough winter for our family.  So on Friday when Cubby seemed even clingier than usual, I hoped for the best.  I took his temperature and it read 103F.  Of course.

I stayed home.  Again.  There are now calls for my husband to take a photo of me with today’s newspaper to prove I’m still alive.  After all, anyone could update a Facebook or Twitter status, or write a blog post with the words “centre” and “colour” deliberately misspelled to look authentically British.  I mean, when was the last time you spoke to me?!  Of course, things aren’t that bad, but I do kind of miss the outside.

Apart from waking up a little extra in the night, he wasn’t so bad.  And on Saturday and Sunday he was just fine.  Perhaps a little off his food, perhaps a little cranky, but that is hard to detect in a toddler who delights in being both picky and cranky.  We stuck close to home just in case, and I got some spring cleaning done, like cleaning our very sticky dining room carpet.

On Monday I was getting Pudding ready for school, when he was suddenly violently sick.  Of course, on the dining room carpet.  It just looked too fresh and clean to belong in our house, I suppose.  I took him upstairs, and he was sick all over our bed.  I asked him if he was sick, but he replied that no, he was sad.  Poor boy.  I cleaned him up, sent Pudding off to school.  He took a nap, and woke up in time for a quick snack before we left to collect Pudding to take her for her speech therapy session.  I debated canceling, but we’d missed the previous two sessions.  Besides, he seemed fine after the nap.

He wasn’t.  He was sick in spectacular fashion on the way there, to Pudding’s fascinated horror, and then again on the way home.  I removed his clothes in the kitchen, and as I went to get a cloth to clean him up, he vomited again.  And then slipped in it and banged his head in it.  Sigh.  I gathered him up, and he transferred the whole mess to me and my hair.

He was the kind of clingy that meant even the briefest of showers had a background of screaming.  Only after I got out did I realize I hadn’t washed my hair.  Sigh.  In all this time, Pudding had precisely none of my attention, a circumstance that she was determined to rectify.  I poured a bath for Cubby, and she immediately stripped all her clothes off to join him.  I told her that there would be no bath for her.  Cubby was sick, and needed to get clean.

Pudding– PUDDING’S SICK!!!

Me– Oh really, Pudding?  You’re sick too?

Pudding– Yes, I’m sick.  I need some medicine.  You take medicine when you’re sick.

Well, she got me on that one, but I still denied the bath.


The next day I was still dealing with a sickly boy, when I got the call from the school to collect Pudding.  She was listless and asking to lie down.  I got her into the car, and asked if she was sick.  And this time, this time she replies:

-No, I’m NOT sick!!!  Cubby’s sick.  Cubby’s wearing pyjamas.  I don’t want to wear pyjamas, I want to wear a dress.  I don’t want to go to bed.  I’m NOT sick.

And then the rest of the day did a very good demonstration of how she was not sick, but extremely out of sync.  Eventually she developed a fever, so she is still home.  She is off her food too, which is most un-Puddinglike.  Perhaps this is the incubation period before things get messy.


Having observed my kids this winter, I think illness magnifies their sensory tendencies.  Cubby, my sensitive avoider, wants everything to be calm and quiet.  He is content to lie down (as long as I’m there with him) and read books.  He loses his ability to tolerate his sister’s closeness and noise-making.  Pudding, my underresponsive seeker, seems to be looking for yet more input to regulate herself.  As much of a struggle as it can be for them to be together when they’re well, it is so much worse when they are ill.  I’m right in the middle, trying to keep both of them happy, and not doing such a stellar job of it.  I just need to avoid catching it myself.

So that is where we are this week.  If I go quiet on the social media, you’ll know why.  But if a short post about colour centres hits your inbox, ask my husband about that picture with today’s newspaper, would you?

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

March 17, 2011 at 6:54 am

Cabin Fever

with 8 comments

You know when you become ill, and you just want to lie still in bed, or on the sofa in a cosy blanket? I do. I had a cold last week, and after Tuesday’s drama, it took a turn for the worse. I woke up on Wednesday morning and could hardly move. Spectrummy Daddy was already getting ready for work when I informed him that he wasn’t going anywhere. One of the more challenging parts of our nomadic lifestyle is not having family around to call on. I feel guilty keeping him home, especially when I’ve had such a tough winter with my health. I only do it when there is no option.

By afternoon on Wednesday, I could get out of bed, but still felt pretty lousy. I moved to the sofa for a while, but then went back to bed. On Thursday I felt a little better. In an ideal world I’d have rested for another day, but that wasn’t to be.  I was glad to put Pudding on the school bus. Cubby can be a handful at times, but he is fairly content to stay at home if necessary.

At 10 I got an email from Ms. S saying that Pudding seemed really congested. I called and said I’d collect her. Forgive me if I wasn’t feeling overjoyed at the prospect. You see, you know when you become ill and you just want to stay in bed, or on the sofa in a cosy blanket? Pudding doesn’t. In her four years on this planet, there has only been one occasion when she has voluntarily gone to bed in the daytime, and that was at Christmas. I took a photo of her napping on the couch because it was so note-worthy. She gave up naps at 18 months, and in sickness and in health she maintains an exhausting activity level all day long. Usually, she becomes even more hyper than usual when she is ill.

And so it was on Thursday. I was worn out. I tried to lure her with a movie, but the second she got her popcorn, she skipped away with it. She did not want to stay at home, and let me know that every few minutes or so.

By Friday, I was feeling better, but she was still ill. We played with almost every toy she owned, we did puzzles, we did crafts. She breezed through everything, still wanting to go to the playground, but I refused. She asked me repeatedly where I wanted to go to, and would be angered by my reply that we were staying home. I tried TV, her iPad, the computer, but all she wanted to do was go somewhere. With a hacking cough and streaming nose, there was no way I would allow it.

By Saturday she was better, and we could leave the house, to her great relief. By Sunday she was fine, so we left the house, though it was pouring with rain, and I’d have preferred staying indoors. Today I’ll be gladly waving her off to a half day of school.

For a spectrum child, she is unusual. Routines aren’t very important to her. She transitions very well. The difficulties that most parents have upon leaving the house aren’t so bad for us. I can just tell her we’re going out, and she’ll put her shoes on. But expecting her to stay inside? That is a problem. It isn’t so bad, is it? She loves going to restaurants and the mall. She adores playgrounds and museums. Anywhere novel is exciting.  Though sensory overload can happen, it is mercifully rare. We’ve never had to use visual schedules with her, and I only use a (picture) social story when something very different is happening, like going on vacation. Her allergies are more of a problem when we are out, but she behaves significantly better than if we stay at home. The vast majority of her meltdowns take place at home.  So we go out a lot. No big deal.

Except on Friday, when she had every means of entertainment at her hands, she still wanted out. She truly hates being kept indoors for a long period of time. The snow is not our friend for this reason. And on Friday, I learned that we will be taking two flights to get to South Africa, the second of which is 16 hours long.  Sixteen.Hours.Long.

Cabin fever.


Written by Spectrummy Mummy

March 6, 2011 at 7:28 pm