Tag Archives: ear sensitivity

Emma’s Ears – Autism

Monday night Emma was up at midnight screaming.  Her ears were bothering her.  This has been an ongoing problem for many months now.  She is highly sensitive to the changing air pressure.  As a result of Emma’s sensitivity, I too have become increasingly aware of it and am surprised that I have lived this long without noticing how often it changes, causing my ears to “pop”, as Emma describes the sensation, too.  Still, just to be safe we have taken her to her pediatrician who assured us her ears were fine and referred us to an ear specialist.  To date Emma has gone to the ear specialist three times.  Her ears are fine, we’ve been repeatedly told.  She’s just extremely sensitive to the air pressure which is constantly fluctuating.

“I need help!”  she screamed.  “Ears popping, have to unpop!  Mommy!  Mommy I need help?”

This can go on – as it did Monday night for hours.  That night she was up until past 4:00AM, I don’t know when she finally fell asleep as I eventually lapsed into a kind of restless state of unconsciousness.  When I woke it was just past 7:00AM and Emma was fast asleep, arms spread out like Christ on the cross, blonde hair fanned out on the pillow beside me.  Richard had long since relinquished his place in our bed and gone to her bed.  Merlin, preferring the rocking chair in the living room, was happily curled up away from all of us when I came into the kitchen to begin preparing the children’s breakfast.

I reminded myself that Emma used to regularly wake up at around 2:00AM only to finally fall back asleep somewhere between 4:00 or 5:00AM.  How we managed to get through those middle of the night awakenings month after month is something I cannot fathom given how exhausted I was yesterday.  The combination of crying in pain and screaming for help, help I am unable to give, is what breaks my heart.  I try to remind myself that being there, just sitting with her, even though I cannot change the air pressure, is a kind of help too.  Still it’s difficult not to feel the rising panic and accompanying helplessness that come with witnessing ones child in such obvious pain.

“Please Mommy.  You have to unplug.  Ears!  Ears!”  she continued to cry while twisting her blanket up and trying to push it down her ear canal.

“Em, try to yawn,” I told her opening my mouth in an exaggerated yawn.

“NOOOOOOOO!”  Emma screamed, pounding the side of her head with her hand.  “Nooooo!  Mommy!  Mommy!  I need help!”

It is during moments like these that I want to scream.  I want to hit the wall with my fist.  I want someone or something to help my daughter.  So I go wake up my blissfully sleeping husband, Richard and get him to help me.

“I got this,” he told me after I woke him, waving me away.  “Go back to sleep.”

Only I couldn’t go back to sleep so I followed him into her bedroom where he had ingeniously pulled out a balloon and told her to blow into it for a few seconds.  He also had the foresight to bring some nasal spray which the ear specialist had given us for her.

And while none of these things were “magical” cures for her popping ears, his calm demeanor helped settle her and me down.

“I’m going to lie down with her, you go back to bed,” I told him.  As he got up to leave, I said, “And thank you.”  To say I feel gratitude that I have a husband who is so completely in the trenches with me, who is more than willing to do his share and often does much more than that, who isn’t afraid to submerge himself in all things that make up our crazy family, would be a vast understatement.

An hour later, Emma, still in pain, but at least not screaming like an air raid siren, whimpered, “Ears still popping.  Go to Mommy’s bed?”

“Okay Em.  Come on.”  I led her through the hallway into our bedroom and climbed into bed with her.

Last night, exhausted and concerned that we might have a repeat episode, I went to sleep early.  Miraculously Emma slept until almost 7:00AM.

For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism, go to:  www.EmmasHopeBook.com

Blocked Ears & the Internet

Emma has a blocked Eustachian tube in her ear.  And if I might remind our loyal readers, I did actually mention this in a previous post after searching for several hours on the Internet – having googled such random things as:  ears, ears popping, earache, etc.   I concluded in that post I must avoid the Internet when attempting to diagnose my daughter’s complaints – though now, it turns out, googling random words is exactly what is called for in such circumstances.

The remedy is a bit more difficult to enforce.  The remedy being she is causing the pain in her ears by grabbing hold of her nose, clamping her mouth shut and blowing forcefully out of her now firmly held nose.  Other than turning her face red, I wasn’t aware that other dangers lurked from this seemingly innocent act.  Trying to convey all of this to Emma is proving to be a bit more difficult than simply saying – Hey Em.  Don’t do that.  It’s making things much worse and besides that, you probably wouldn’t have any ear problems in the first place if you just stopped.

She looks at you saying all of this, nods her head and then promptly grabs her nose as though you’ve just given her the go-ahead.  Nothing helpful comes up when I google any words remotely associated with any of this other than a few non-related ads about a new Disney Resort called Aulani in Hawaii.  I am tempted to explore how this ad came up when googling autism and ear sensitivities, but really why waste the time?

I’m going out on a limb here, but as I have said before and been proven wrong more times than not, anyone reading this will take it all with a grain of salt –  Emma is highly sensitive to the air pressure and it turns out, so am I.  Only I wasn’t aware of this until Emma started complaining of her own ears.  Throughout the day now I am aware of a slight pressure within my ears and I immediately wonder if Emma is feeling the same thing.  The difference being I can at least attempt to articulate the sensation and realize it is not life threatening, it will eventually go away and is one of those things in life, like sore muscles that one just puts up with knowing it will be okay, no need to panic.

However this is not the way Emma perceives it.  She is thrown into a state of panic and it is heart wrenching to witness.

I will spend some more time on the Internet, before going into work, having had my faith in Google restored.

More on Emma’s Ears…

The good news is Emma’s ears look fine.  The bad news is her throat is a little red and evidently strep continues to make its way through the New York City schools.  So we had yet another strep test done.  The immediate results were negative, but we’ll know more today or tomorrow once the culture has had a chance to grow.  So Emma is staying home today on the off chance she does have strep and so she won’t needlessly contaminate her fellow students.

As I write this, Emma is leaping around the living room singing, while waving a thin strip of plastic around like some sort of experimental ribbon dance.   Every now and again she stops and stands very still while twirling the plastic around and around, seemingly mesmerized by it only to continue jumping, singing and dancing a few minutes later.

It’s impossible to know what Emma is thinking or feeling.  I watch her and make assumptions, much as I did yesterday regarding her ears, only to find that perhaps she has strep.  I think I’ve said this before, but autism throws all maternal instincts right out the window.  Whenever I think I have an idea of what’s going on with Emma I am almost consistently proven wrong.  She complains of her ears, look at her throat.  She complains of her ears, I suspect her throat (pride myself in being a quick learner) and it turns out it’s her ears.  It’s as though there’s some sort of “Emma’s Law” out there, whatever I think is going on – I’ll be wrong.   You think you’ve figured this out?  Ha!

Yesterday I did what many parents do when confounded by their child’s ill health.  I went to the internet and googled – ear pressure, ear popping and a number of other things.  All of which was fine until I read about a troubling condition some children are afflicted with called – Blocked Eustachian Tube – a decongestant was recommended followed by a visit to the doctor and Barotrauma, the only suggestion being a doctor’s visit.  Emma’s pediatrician didn’t mention either of these things.  But now I’m convinced Emma has some horrific condition which will only be remedied with invasive procedures, possibly surgery and I’m traveling for work tomorrow, so it’ll be up to Richard to cope with all of this in my absence.  No one has said any of this to me, these are the conclusions I have come to after going onto the Internet for an hour.

All of which is to say – I must avoid the internet when it comes to diagnosing my child’s ear problems.