My boys are never more different than when they are sick

T’is the season for.. illnesses.

It’s never a fun time… either your children are sick and you’re getting no sleep or you’re sick and you’re getting no sleep or everyone is sick and… what’s sleep?

The last week now, both of my boys have been sick. I’ve been lucky enough to avoid it but having now just told the world that, I fully expect to be sick around this time tomorrow.

My oldest son is 5.5 and has Autism, as such, he tends to be pretty energetic and what you would call, pretty wild. He tends to be all over the place. My 3 year old does not have Autism and while he is also a ball of energy, he’s more controlled and less likely to be all over the place.

Introduce the flu.

3am rolls around and both boys are heading to the bathroom, neither of them is happy. Coincidentally, neither am I. I’m not mad either but I’m certainly not happy.

So the morning creeps up in my sleepless haze and I am on the phone to tell the bus driver not to stop here today and I’m trying my best to get my boys to drink some water and I can barely keep my eyes open… but as the day continues forward, something becomes very clear to me… my boys handle illness so very differently!

Cameron, my oldest, who is usually all over the place, is now fast asleep on his bedroom floor, or lying in a corner behind stuffed animals, or just laying down all glossy eyed on the couch. He doesn’t complain though. He sort of feels something isn’t right but otherwise, feels no pain. He just wants to be left alone.

Tyler on the other hand, that is usually far more controlled, is drawing on the black board, throwing toys all over the place, asking to go outside and play in the snow and really not wanting to have his afternoon nap. At the same time, he cries because his tummy hurts so much or because throwing up is so yucky. He becomes the ultimate sucky sicky.

I don’t have any profound bit of knowledge or any insightful reasoning to share with you as to why this happens but I do find it intriguing enough to write about.

As I shared these revelations with others on Twitter and Facebook, I found that I wasn’t alone in having an Autistic child kind of “shut down” when sick.

Cameron has an unusually high pain tolerance and for his entire life, even when very young, we really would have no idea when he was sick except for the fact that he’d just lay there instead of playing or doing anything.

Tyler, on the other hand, we’d know immediately because he’d cry in his sleep, before even he knew he was sick.

They’re brothers, one does something funny, the other copies… they share everything, they say the same words wrong, they want to have the same cups, pajamas, treats and games. They get on each other’s nerves but they want to be like each other.

But when an illness strikes… they couldn’t be more different.

By the way, they’re both feeling much better now which is why I’ve finally had time to write about it. But now, I’m going to crawl into bed and get some sleep!

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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5 Responses to My boys are never more different than when they are sick

  1. Patrice February 28, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

    When my son with PDD-NOS is very sick he does shut down. However, when he has a slightly elevated temp we have found that he becomes more focused and verbal. There are some studies now being conducted to try to figure out why a number of parents have anecdotes like this.

  2. The Domestic Goddess March 1, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    Thankfully, when my guys are sick, they are completely still and quiet. It is a miracle. And I secretly enjoy it.

  3. Jill Peterson March 1, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

    My almost 7 yr old son still hasn’t been diagnosed medically, but he is diagnosed the school system as autistic. He shuts down as well when he’s sick, but I actually have a question for you: does your older son sort of regress after he’s started feeling better? My son had the flu last week, and since he’s kicked the fever, he’s not talking/verbalizing as much…almost like he’s struggling to find the words. And he’s become very whiny all of a sudden, even though he didn’t whine while he was sick.

  4. Sam Barber April 11, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    I have a severely autistic son of 3 and a half and when he’s ill he is an absolute nightmare! Everything increases, aggresiveness, bad behaviour, volume etc, the only things that decreases is his sleep and eating which then is virtually non existent :o( My son also has ADHD and severe developmental delays, which I believe worsen things.
    I am a single mum without help from family or friends, completely alone. My son is pretty much constantly ill and my own life has dissapeared due to this. I also have a 13y old daughter with Aspergers who thank god is pretty normal when ill, lounges around and moans now and then lol. I never thought life could ever be so difficult, but I guess I was just naive. :o(

  5. Sam Barber April 11, 2012 at 8:58 am #

    Hiya Jill,
    Yes my son regresses during, after and for some time afterwards. He has been ill pretty much for the last 4 months and isn’t anywhere near where he was before. He’s doing things he hasn’t done for ages (repetative behaviours etc) sigh! I lose my son when he’s ill and it takes ages for him to come back to me afterwards :o(

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