Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Magic Brainstem Doohicky

This will make me sound like the worst parent in the world, but I kind of like it when Ryan is sick.

It's not just because a sick kid bounces off the furniture less and is easier to control. It's because a fever reduces a lot of the hallmark symptoms of autism.

See, there's this doohicky in the brainstem. It regulates fever, and it also governs the release of the neurotransmitter noradrenaline, which is critical for paying attention to your environment. It also contributes to the symptoms of opiate withdrawal, which is what someone like Ryan experiences after accidentally consuming wheat products. There was a great article in Time about this magic brainstem doohicky -go read it, it's good stuff.

So for the last week while Ryan has been running a fairly high fever (it turned out to be strep throat), I basked in his sudden ability to communicate. When a toy went missing, Ryan used complete sentences to tell me precisely where to search - "I think it's behind the cubbies. Can you find it, please, Mommy?" When presented with a choice of two lollipops, he was able to pick one easily - he didn't start by choosing the empty space between them. He was cooperative, generally content, and willing to try to talk to his grandmother on the phone.

Now, if he could do all that without the 103.6 degree fever, we'd be golden.

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