There isn't a parent out there that has not gotten that phone call of shame from the school nurse. The one where they call you mid day and tell you your kid is sick and you need to come pick them up. As you drive over there you feel like the world's worst parent because you sent them in sick. How could you not notice they weren't well?
Pretty much any time my kiddo has been sick, this has been how it started. It's rare I notice at home that he's unwell. He's so stuck in his routine of going to school that he could be barfing and he would still want to go. In fact, I really wish he would barf more to indicate he's sick. It would be a clearer sign to me. As he does not have the communication skills to tell me "Hey Mom, I don't feel good. I need to stay home and watch The Price is Right and sip ginger ale all day."
I got a phone call from the nurse. He didn't have a fever. He hadn't barfed but he wasn't "himself." OK, I can get that. As he is always going at hundred miles an hour, if he's kind of lazy/lethargic, that's not him. Except he skipped to the bus singing "Feliz Navidad" at the top of his lungs not to two hours earlier. But these things can come down quick so I ask her what other type of symptoms he's showing to buy a little more time as I have to put on real pants and a bra.
"We asked him if his throat hurt and he said yes." Rookie mistake nurse. Are you new here?
My Kiddo is such a people pleaser. Asking a question in that matter will only get him to answer "yes". They are presenting it in such a way that he's going to say yes because he thinks that's what he should say. Asking exactly what hurts is better. Still, I go and get him because I know that's why they are calling me. Plus, I don't want him sick in school. I want my baby in pajamas all cuddled on the couch why I try to figure out what's wrong.
Sure enough when I asked him if his throat hurt, he smiled and said "YES!" proudly like he got an answer right on a test. However, this ain't my first rodeo and I need to see if his throat actually hurts or this was accidentally planted into his mind. So I asked him, "Does you uterus hurt?" He looked at me and said without hesitation, "YES!" He then wiped his nose with the back of his hand and I see a trail of snot. Methinks it's more like a case of the sniffles than he has his period.
Me: "What's bugging you kiddo?"
Him: "Want to lay down with Logan and Maya." (Our two dogs)
So he came home and did just that. Put on PJ's. Chilled out in front of the iPad and smeared boogers all over it.
If by any chance you are someone who works with autistic folks and you are reading this right now, do me a solid. How you choose your words is so important. Please put some thought into them. Yeah, this is just a simple little misunderstanding of what cold symptoms my kiddo is showing. There's a part of me that looks at this as just another reminder of how flipping vulnerable he is to the power of suggestion. He's so eager to fit in and get it right. He'll agree to anything. That frightens me. It makes me wonder what am I missing because I'm not asking the right questions. Help a sister out here. Make sure you aren't leading a conversation. Give them extra time to respond and use some simple speech.
Now pardon me as I go adjust my shopping list. It seems my son doesn't need tampons and Midol this month after all.
Love your blog, and yes, it is SO important to carefully choose your words when interacting with anyone with autism. The power of suggestion is very scary, when you think of all the ramifications that could come from asking questions like "do you hurt" or "does your (insert) hurt. I just about lost it (laughing hysterically) when you said does your uterus hurt Our wonderful, unique, special, different-NOT LESS kids deserve people who know how to provide our kids with the correct care!ReplyDelete
PLEASE, tell me you asked that in front of the nurse! I would love to know her reaction. As mom to another "yes-er" I always ask him 'no' questions. It throws him off and I can actually see him processing the question. He has to focus on what I've asked him and not his iPad. Then, again, maybe it's because he's 15. ;)ReplyDelete
This is hilarious. I've re-read it numerous times and laugh every single time. I have a sensory kiddo (not autistic although he demonstrates many of the tendencies), and we have learned to choose our words carefully, as he is a very literal kid. One evening, I was talking with my husband at the dinner table about a situation, and asked "should we open our hearts and ...". Before I finished, my son was in tears. He thought we were going to rip open our chests and literally open up our hearts. Yikes.ReplyDelete
We've only had one call from the school nurse, this a few weeks ago. My son (who is in kindergarten, round two) was complaining of his heart hurting. They checked his pulse, his O2, his temp, everything was normal, but they didn't want to mess around so they called me. Son wasn't very communicative with the nurse when she asked if he wanted to come home but said he wanted to talk to his teacher. He let his teacher know that he wanted to stay at school. I'm glad that the school is understanding of our son and let him talk about what he wanted to do with the person with home he was most comfortable at school. :) I kind of wanted that one-on-one cuddle time with him, though.
Loved this especially the last line. We only have "the nod" here, but I often wonder how much he understands. Great post!ReplyDelete
He's so eager to fit in and get it right. He'll agree to anything. ... totally my kid. It also terrifies me.ReplyDelete
I think he might always agree to stuff as an attempt to evade conversation. I do it and it works every time. :)ReplyDelete
My Aspie/ADHD 11-year-old daughter has always been interesting. Before skills training, she would say yes to everything. After skills training, I was taught to start with no questions to get her attention and make her think. Then I would move on to the yes questions. She tends to pay more attention and I might get what's really going on. Having said that, asking her about whether her stomach is bothering her is always a no-no. The reason for this is because she also has an anxiety disorder, which manifests as an upset stomach. And now she has her monthly visitor as well. 3 years ago, she came home from school a total of 35 days because of an upset stomach. I finally had to have a conference with the school social worker and nurse, just so the nurse would stop forcing my munchkin to come home when her stomach was upset!ReplyDelete
I totally get it. I have a son with Autism, and I also work in a public elementary school office, and help out in the health room. So I see it from both sides. At schools here, its not actually a nurse in the health room, but a health assistant. It may be different at your school. Most of the sweet Autistic kiddos that come to the health room, are brought up by their aides. If their aide, who is with them every day say that they're not acting like themselves, we have to go with that. Most health assistants are just Moms, like you and me, trying to figure out what's best for each of the 500 kids they see. I agree with you, you have to ask the right questions the right way. Most of the time, we are going by what the aide says. It's a really tough job, you'd be surprised. My son also would've said yes to the uterus question, but I know that because of how well I know him. I don't expect the health assistant to know that, because she's not with him every day. I would expect his aide to know that, though. Does that make sense? I am in no way disagreeing with you, but I just thought I'd give you the other side also. By the way, I think you are AMAZING and you make me laugh daily! Have a wonderful day!ReplyDelete