Autism and the mystery injuries

One of the biggest problems with Autism, whether your child is verbal or non verbal, is the lack of information. Even if your child speaks quite well, there’s a good chance that you won’t get the information out of them that you’re looking for.

In my case, this is never more apparent than when my son has a random cut, scrape or bruise on his body. And I don’t intend to speak for everyone but I have spoken to more than enough other parents to realize that this isn’t isolated to just my experience.

Introducing the bruise

bruiseThis bruise, pictured right (click to see full size), appeared on my son’s leg this week-end. It’s in the back of his leg, under his knee… which leaves us wondering if it was there sooner and we just didn’t notice, if it appeared during the week-end at some random point or if it actually happened this week-end.

The problem is this… my son doesn’t remember how he got it. This isn’t surprising because most people really don’t remember getting a bruise, since it tends to appear well after the impact that caused it.

But in my son’s case, and I assume many Autistic cases, this is bit more common.

Of all the things he remembers….

My son, like many (but not all) Autistics, has quite the amazing memory. He can hear a story book one time in September and remember it word for word in April. He remembers games I played with him when he was just 1. But ask him how he got a scratch on his face, or a scrape on his arm or, in this case, a bruise on his leg… and he simply will not have an answer.

I’m not sure if it’s selective memory blocking… you know, not wanting to be able to recall a painful event, or if that sort of event really just doesn’t get stored in there sometimes.

What I do know is that it’s not an ideal situation. I don’t mean that from just a convenience stand point but from a safety stand point.

As a parent, you see these injuries and wonder if there is a bully, an abuser, an unsafe environment… you want your child to be safe and not having the information sends your mind into overdrive. Chances are though, he just fell down, hit something too hard, tripped over another student or who knows what… but it’s probably just one of many sores that children are going to get. They play pretty hard.

The Mystery

Still, we’re left wondering. How did this bruise happen? It’s nearly black. It’s very big and not only that, what you don’t see in the picture is that it goes straight across the back of his leg and even appears much more lightly on the other leg.

To me, this means he got whacked with something (like a stick) or that he fell back against something like a hard chair or something.

I’m fairly certain that it’s an innocent bruise (no one intentionally hurt him) but again, I don’t know what did it because he doesn’t know.

As a parent, that’s scary. As a parent of a child with Autism, it’s one more issue to deal with on top of countless others.

If there are studies on this, I am unaware of them. I’m not even sure how they could study something like this. But I suspect that if it was possible, the results would show that I’m not the only parent that has to play detective to find the cause of random injuries. In fact, I would wager that it’s all too common.

Do this happen with you and your children? Please share your experiences.

About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.

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10 Responses to Autism and the mystery injuries

  1. The Domestic Goddess May 9, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    This scares the dickens out of me. One kid is nonverbal and couldn’t tell you even if he did remember (and I don’t think it is lack of memory, I honestly don’t think he even FEELS it). The other kid has a very high threshold for pain. Still, it frightens me because I don’t know if they are safe or not. I have to trust that they are not being mistreated. Perhaps the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with to date.

  2. C... May 9, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    The funny thing is I get bruises I don’t know where they came from let alone the ones my Aspie gets. I can tell you this though, my son falls a lot and it would be hard to tell which accident caused what. However he does have a lot of mystery scrapes and bruises. One we discovered recently I remembered how he got. He actually fell while standing – he was not walking or doing anything but suddenly fell sideways. I was not sure what to make of it because he did not faint … it was just random falling.

  3. Pat May 9, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    Yes, it’s the same for my son. I remember once he came home from school with rug burns. Turns out the OT was playing my Son’s favorite game. They would pull him to the class on a scooter board. Well my son would drag his legs and that how it happened. I think my son learned to lift his legs after that.

  4. Virginia May 9, 2011 at 11:59 pm #

    This happens to us all the time. We can only watch him so much at home and yet he still has these kinds of things happen. Even at preschool he can fall or get a bruise and we have no clue how he got them. He’s 4 and his verbal skills are ok but he still has a hard time telling me what he did or what happened other than just telling me ow.

  5. Angel Gosselin May 10, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    I find that with my boys (both Autistic – both fabulous memories, both incredibly verbal), they remember the “important” stuff. They remember place we went to years ago (in detail), a phrase I may have said last year that was funny for them, etc. But they cannot remember where they get their boo-boo’s 90% of the time. It just wasn’t that important to them – so not worth remembering.

  6. Tarasview May 10, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    oh it happens to us constantly… but my son pretty much throws himself at various things (couches, the wall, the floor..) so it really doesn’t surprise me when he has bruises. And no, he never remembers how he got a bruise. And yes, that does freak me out.

  7. Marita May 10, 2011 at 5:56 pm #

    So often, giant bruises, mystery bumps, bleeding wounds that don’t even hurt until my girls notice the blood.

    I don’t worry so much about the external things. It is internal injuries that I can’t see and they can’t feel that worry me.

  8. Mylinda May 11, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    My oldest daughter would do that. She just didn’t remember how she got a bruise. If it looked new I might be able to ask her about what she did that day to get clues.

    Finally I started talking about how doing something was going to leave a bruise or a mark. I also think not remembering had to do with being busy when it happened.

  9. Katrina Moody May 16, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    I hear you – it happens all the time with my guys, but especially Logan, my youngest autistic little man. He’s nonverbal and it absolutely terrifies me to think of how easily he could be hurt and unable to tell us about it. *shudders*

  10. caizooka May 31, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

    Indeed. My (almost) 6 year old son with autism has numerous bruises at any given time. Some of them have huge stories that involve Scooby Doo, a mystery visit from a flying saucer, and a girl named Crystal, but most of them he doesn’t know. I wonder how many parents of children with autism have similar bruises/injuries? I know that I do! Because of the lack of my son’s sensory self, there is never a day that I don’t receive a huge bruise of one kind or another because a hug gone wrong, a fit of anger, or just a big misstep. Anyone else?

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