Asthma, Allergies, Eczema and Autism
I had an amazing pregnancy. No complications, vaginal delivery with no epidural, breast fed, and went home with a healthy and greedy little boy. At 5 months, he contracted RSV and had to get Albuterol every 4 hours with the nebulizer to help him recover. After the RSV subsided, he still had a cough that was so persistent. If untreated, the cough would turn to spasms, which later I learned was another form of asthma attack. That was the start of asthma.
Around the same time, we noticed he started having white patches all over his body that were itchy. He would scratch so bad, that he would bleed. He had to sleep with socks on his hands to prevent him from further injuring his self. That was a challenge, watching him scratch the itch that never stops. It was like torture. He would literally dig into his skin looking for relief. After many rounds with steroid creams and lotions, he finally got some relief when he was placed on a very strategic plan that assisted him with his allergies as well.
Oh, the allergies, I saw the connection early between what he was eating and his eczema flare ups. He was sensitive to cows milk, goats milk, tomato based anything, and citrus.I knew it was not a good idea to expose him to fish or peanuts because he has such a sensitive system, so I never did. At 18 months, after begging the allergist (they stated that they typically do not do testing until a child is 3), he was tested. He tested positive to fish, nuts, and eggs. We were relieved and sought to make sure all friends and family knew about his allergies.
He was given an epi-pen( that we've never had to use THANK YOU GOD!) and an action plan. Around the age of 2, I noticed his tantrums were extreme. He would fall back and hit his head, scream loudly, and become completely inconsolable. I also noticed that his speech was not appropriate for his age. He would point, say one word, and was able to comprehend, but something was lacking.I got him evaluated and they stated he was hyperactive. I was also told to get him into speech services and that we would see some of his behaviors decrease.
That was not the case. I knew something was not right when I would hear him repeat the lines from movies. I knew that was echolalia. One of the common symptoms in Autistic children. I continued to seek services in Mississippi and unfortunately we did not locate many places for additional assessments. During this time, he attended a rigorous daycare, and he excelled academically, but socially he struggled. He would not play with the other children, and typically would repeat movie lines to himself. His teacher and the director were amazing, but continuously made us aware of his behaviors. He had speech therapists that saw him weekly, and that went well. I was concerned about the school he would attend because was kindergarten was near.
Interesting enough we moved from Mississippi in April 2017, and he was never diagnosed while in Mississippi. Once we arrived in Grand Rapids, MI ,he was diagnosed in May 2017 with Autism. It was very clear and evident to the clinicians. He also got an evaluation done with the school district and qualified for an IEP and services. I did not talk much about his diagnosis. I made a post on facebook, but that was about it.
Deep down, my soul churns thinking about many things as it relates to his diagnosis. I asked myself what did I do/not do during his pregnancy? The only things I know to do, is to love him, teach him, talk to him, and advocate for him. I am not in denial, I knew and as a therapist knew before anyone else did. I used to be embarrassed that he would say random things to people, or that he would have meltdowns. Now, we simply have a conversation about our activities that day and he does well. Even when he does do something I used to be mortified by, I shrug it off, address it if I need to , and carry on.
He is now in a transitional classroom that has all high functioning students with autism. He is excelling well academically and socially. He has a best-friend, has played soccer and basketball. He has speech and therapy at school, and speech and occupational therapy with private clinicians. His asthma is well maintained and he has fewer attacks each year. He is also able to eat some of the foods initially that he was sensitive to, yet scores high for fish and peanuts. His eczema goes through its cycles.
He is currently taking Flaxseed oil, a probiotic, vitamin D, and Singular. I am looking to expand his daily supplement regimen to assist him with focus. Despite these four diagnosis that have invaded his space, he conquers them daily. I look at him and he gives me strength. He is so resilient. Although I have been angry, cried many tears, and get frustrated, he never complains. He wakes up pleasant every morning. I thought I would be teaching him something as being his parent. But the roles have reversed. Every day he teaches me to look life in the face and despite whats going on, to simply say " Lets do this". Everyday he wins. This is his journey, and each step it gets better and better. I thank God for the opportunity to be apart of it.
Someone once described depression as a prison. You're locked in without any ability to free yourself- under the control of someone else, merely existing. Your'e watching the world move on the outside, without the ability to participate.
Many experience depression. Common symptoms include feelings of hopelessness, irritability, physically tired, inability to sleep, loss of interest in activities that used to give satisfaction, weight gain or loss, inability to think or make decisions, recurrent thoughts of death, or suicidal ideation. These symptoms cause a major impact in the daily functioning of an individual. During the therapeutic process, depression should be handled carefully. The client should not feel ashamed or asked to give a reason why they feel the way they do.
In my experience, many women experienced the symptoms listed above, however, were unaware what they were experiencing was depression. I can attest that due to socioeconomic stressors and relationship dynamics, there was a lack of attention on their mental health.
Depression does not have a preference. No matter the race, culture, socioeconomic status, education or position, depression can be experienced by anyone. Men often experience depression as well. Their symptoms may not be so evident at times which makes it a challenge for them to seek help. ( I will have another post on boys and men).
If you or someone you know is experiencing the symptoms listed above, know that there is hope. Effective treatments for depression are cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, and completing a physical to rule out any medical conditions. Contact your primary care physician and let them know your symptoms, contact a therapist or your local community mental health agency for counseling services.
Merriam Webster defines realize as a: to bring into concrete existence b: to cause to seem real : make appear real. When we realize that we don't feel comfortable in our environments or our thoughts, it is time for change to occur. Is it really that easy? Of course not, but if we believe that it is impossible, then we will never attempt to make the changes needed.
What in your life have you kept out of "concrete existence?" Have you intentionally or unintentionally kept these areas out of realization to remain temporarily comfortable, for the sake of other people, or to avoid the pain associated? There is so much power in simply acknowledging that a problem exists.
So I dare you, call a trusted friend and tell talk about your “unrealized” area, how it’s affecting you and your plans to seek help. THERE IS POWER IN TALKING ABOUT IT! 💪🏾💪🏾😉
Rebecca Spann- Therapist, Wife, Mother, Daughter, Sister, Entrepreneur, and Visionary. I often have thoughts that I love to share with others. Hopefully you enjoy!