I didn’t have time yesterday to go into Emma’s response to being told she could no longer have her usual breakfast of the past six years – cheerios with milk and 2 slices of whole wheat toast with butter and raspberry jam or her weekend breakfast of pancakes (mix from William’s & Sonoma) with chocolate chips. Did I mention she cannot eat chocolate?
I had the foresight to put everything that she can no longer eat into bags, which I then hid or, if it was perishable, threw away. Except that I forgot about her whole wheat bread. Sunday morning – Day 1 – there it sat on the kitchen counter like a beacon calling lost ships to shore. She figured out pretty quickly that things were not going to be “breakfast as usual” and went for the bread before I could grab it or her. I then had to wrestle her to the ground, as she screamed and tore at my clothing like a rabid beast. It’s tough to maintain ones composure in such circumstances. When she realized I intended to throw the bread away, she screamed and clawed at it, eventually crumpling into a heap on the floor, sobbing. “Nooooooooooo! Please Mommy. I want toast with raspberry jam!”
I offered her the granola, then some oatmeal, all of which she refused and finally sat with her as she wept. I tried to hold her, but she pushed me away. I know not to take Emma’s rejection of me personally, it’s one of the many things about her autism that has always baffled. She has never derived any comfort or pleasure from being physically soothed when she was upset. As a baby it seemed as though she were missing that most basic human instinct, seeking contact from another human being. It was as though self preservation was not part of her makeup.
Yesterday there was no weeping, but she had a fever and runny nose.
“Classic junkie symptoms,” a recovered addict I know informed me, after I told him what we were doing.
“What do you mean?”
“When I was a junkie, I told my dealer, heroin was great for curing the common cold. She laughed at me and said – no you idiot. You’re jonesing. That was my moment of realization. I was hooked and I hadn’t known it until then.”
“So what are you saying? You think this fever is withdrawal?” I sat down, incredulous.
“Maybe. Hey I’m just thinking out loud. What do I know?”
Still his words have stuck with me. Maybe it’s just a coincidence. Maybe she has a cold. Her throat is red and I don’t see how that can be from any kind of withdrawal. Still it’s weird. This morning she had a fever again and her “cold” or whatever this is doesn’t seem to be better.
She continues to refuse almost everything offered. Making whimpering noises whenever I ask her to sit at the dining room table to eat with us. Today she finally had a slice of ham, some green grapes and some sheep’s milk cheese. It’s the most she’s eaten in two days!
For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism, go to: www.emmashopebook.com