While my wife talked with the babysitter, I went to use the bathroom which is located right next to the girl’s room. I heard a “thump”, a slight pause and then Bianca started crying. These are not unusual sounds coming from Bianca’s room. While her sleeping has much improved over the past year and a half, sometimes when she wakes up she cries, gets irritated and will flail arms and legs or head-butt the wall. We tend to run in for the latter, but if she is just a little cranky that she woke up, we let her be and she usually soothes herself back to sleep.
Something about this cry seemed a little different, so I went into her room to find her sitting on the floor in front of her book rack. This is pretty normal as well, so I picked her up to sooth her. She stopped crying almost instantly so I put her down and told her to go back to bed. The problem was that when I put her down, she crumpled to the floor. At first I thought she was just doing the “floppy dead weight kid thing” but then I realized that she wasn’t putting weight on her right foot. I massaged it a little bit and figured her leg must have fallen asleep while she was lying in her mountain of blankets that she insists on sleeping with and brought her to be with us. She was back asleep in seconds so I moved her back to her room.
When I went to wake her up for school in the morning she was her typical self. Mornings are not her strong suit. She was making a sloth look speedy so I picked her up out of bed, put her down and told her to go downstairs so she could eat and get dressed. I reminded her that it was Halloween and that her class party was that day. But as soon as I put her down she crumpled to the floor. This time I picked her up and held her hands and let her walk… she was not putting any weight whatsoever on her right foot.
If you have a NT child and he/she gets hurt, there is a certain predictability to it. The kid gets hurt, kid comes crying to you, kid proceeds to tell you what happened and you determine the best course of action based on the circumstances. With an autistic child, aside from the first part where the kid gets hurt… only some or none of the other “normal” events in the sequence take place. In Bianca’s case, it was none.
Even though there was something clearly wrong, Bianca was acting like… Bianca. Bianca with a mean limp perhaps, but Bianca nonetheless. She was playing, doing her normal routine only not as mobile. I thought about dismissing it as a sprain, but I have heard and read so many stories of kids on the spectrum breaking a leg and walking on it like it was nothing for weeks that I thought we should do something. I am also aware that while Bianca does feel pain, she does not necessarily process it the same way as a NT person does so I woke up my wife to tell her that I thought we had a situation. A trip to the ER was probably called for… and I HATE trips to the ER. Bianca is not too thrilled with them either.
We took Bianca to the ER where they took some x-rays and drew blood… In other words, pissed her off. Ever try to get an autistic kid to hold still for x-rays? Forget the lead apron, I needed a lead suit. I don’t know how many times they had to radiate her, but she needed to be held in place, so Elsa and I were alongside her holding various appendages and body parts… as were two other technicians. My hand was visible in almost every x-ray.
The poor phlebotomist had to stick 2 arms and a hand to get the blood he needed. Again, since Bianca doesn’t process pain in a typical manner the needle meant nothing to her. It was the team of us that had to hold her down (yet again) that was sending her into a full-fledged panic and meltdown. Elsa and I tried singing with her, scripting some of her favorite lines from TV shows and lending a calming tone, but Bianca wanted none of it. She also wanted nothing to do with any of the bandages they placed on her. She pulled, chewed and tugged at every bandage until they were off. Most of the time before the bleeding stopped.
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