I have read a lot of articles that say there is a gut-brain connection in autism.
Since my son has Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome, I tend to agree.
I was asked by a CVS group to write about how being on the autism spectrum adds issues or challenges to CVS, so that's what this post is going to be about.
One of the biggest challenges for Derek (and for me) when he gets sick (not just with a CVS episode) is that Derek cannot tell me he is feeling ill. He can't tell me if he's dizzy or nauseous. He can't tell me when his head hurts or his stomach hurts or his ear hurts. I have to watch for signs. Sometimes he'll pull on his ear or go to bed early or just not eat anything when he is sick. But, unfortunately, sometimes he does these things when he's perfectly fine too, so I don't really have a good indication that my son is sick unless he has a fever or is vomiting.
When it comes to CVS, most people have some indication that an episode is coming on. Some people see an aura. Some become more sensitive to lights or noise. Most have stomach pain or headaches or both. I don't know if my son experiences any of that. I am assuming he does, but since he is autistic and has sensory processing disorder, I know that he's sensitive to lights and noise and crowds and tastes and smells all the time anyway. So is it even more extreme before a CVS episode? I don't know. Perhaps.
I do know that when he is in the middle of an episode, and he gets vomit on himself, he can't stand it. He freaks out because the vomit is wet and gross. He doesn't like the way it feels to vomit either. He cries and asks me for help. It breaks my heart, because there is nothing I can do. He also is extra sensitive to the feeling of fabric on his skin and wants it off immediately. He prefers to be completely naked, and in between rounds of vomiting, he sleeps on the bathroom floor on piles of blankets and towels.
We have been lucky. Derek hasn't had to be hospitalized yet because of dehydration. I dread when he is more than you can possibly imagine. Derek can't stand IV's and will most likely yank it out of his arm. He also hates wearing hospital bracelets.
On the plus side, medication has helped Derek tremendously. At one point he was having episodes once a week. Now he has them maybe once a month; if we are lucky once every two months. I'm also hoping that as he gets older and more aware of his body, he'll be able to tell me when he's feeling sick, and he'll be able to take the appropriate "abort" medicines to avoid episodes altogether.
I cross my fingers that the episode is over. 7:45 a.m. Derek is asleep on the bathroom floor. His face is white as a sheet. I carry his limp body to the bed and cover him with a blanket. I kiss his clammy forehead. I wish I could sleep too, but I have about 5 loads of laundry to do. Vomit laundry. The bathroom is trashed. I also have to get Tyler to school. My day has just begun...