|Too sick to celebrate a birthday|
Wonder Boy whined as he woke. Whimpered as he dressed. Raged at the table. He refused to play with his toys, demanded constant attention, asked to be picked up, held, squeezed.
At school, he threw himself to the ground and cried. In therapy, silent tears coursed down his cheeks.
We brought his talker to him; guided his fingers. “Something hurts,” the machine intoned. “It’s my…” His finger hovered over the bright page of highlighted body parts.
Stomach? Head? Teeth? Did he fall? Did someone hurt him?
A therapist noted a rash on his backside.
He sweats; he sits for a long time on the potty; he has sensitive skin.
Wonder Boy’s lower lip quivered. He knocked his talker to the floor. Shook his head. Stomped his feet. Flailed. Finally, his chest filled with air. He opened his mouth and screamed. High pitched, long and loud.
In desperation and on a Sunday, Super Daddy took Wonder Boy to the doctor.
It seems Wonder Boy had strep throat.
About a week after beginning the medicine, Wonder Boy’s sweet personality returned. He played independently with his toys. Sat with his books. Participated in school activities; aced therapy programs.
Super Daddy dutifully took Wonder Boy to a follow up doctor’s appointment. The strep test was negative.
All was well. Until Wonder Boy again refused to go outside, stopped asking for his toys, rejected the trampoline; whined.
“…he’s trying to tell us (something) with his behavior…”
Communication barriers make life difficult for conscientious people with incompetent co-parents and is a recipe for trouble to parents of teenagers. But the ability to communicate is stolen by illness, disease and genetic differences like Parkinson’s, stroke, dementia and Alzheimer’s and is a common side effect of autism.
The ability to communicate is one of those things a person doesn’t fully appreciate until it’s gone.
How did the kids do this weekend? Are they eating and sleeping? Anybody sick?
Are you angry? Sad? Frustrated? Do you want to read a book? Play with trains? Are you hot? Hungry? Is your bath water too cold? Do you have to pee? Is your sweater scratchy? What do you want for lunch?
Where do you hurt?
In desperation and on a Sunday, Super Daddy took Wonder Boy back to the doctor where Wonder Boy was again diagnosed with strep throat.
Recurrent strep infections may be caused by repeated exposure, antibiotic resistance, neglecting to finish the medication, carrier status and in rare instances, contact with dogs.
With medicine, Wonder Boy’s sweet personality returned. He sat with his books, showed interest in his toys, played independently, stepped outdoors, giggled and laughed.
Wonder Boy placed a palm on each of my cheeks. He smiled into my eyes and spoke.
The words were unformed, but they were neither script nor repetition. They were independent expression; his words.
My heart swelled with love. And hope.