Tag Archives: obsession

Hook Worms & Obsessions

It’s easy to poke fun at any treatment which includes the words “hook worms.”  I remember when I first heard about hook worms in treating autism, I immediately thought of leeches and dismissed the whole thing.  By the way this post is not about hook worms, but about how when your child has autism you are constantly confronted with an endless array of “treatments,” almost all of which come with some kind of “scientific” explanation.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, a great many smart people are trying to find help for our kids, but it is often confusing.

For those who want to know more about hook worms or Helminthic Therapy, here are some links:  The Guardian, Autoimmune Therapies, for a counter argument against helminthic therapy (hook worms) and for a number of studies being done through various hospitals in the country go to:  http://www.thebostonchannel.com/health/23652453/detail.html, http://www.neurology.wisc.edu/publications/07_pubs/Neuro_5.pdf, http://www.direct-ms.org/pdf/HygienePrinciples/Helminiths%20immune%20reg and www.pubmed.gov.

I am currently reading a book – Obsession:  A History by Lennard J. Davis.  What’s fascinating is how our perceptions of “illness” continue to change.  What began as “demonic possession,” something the Catholic Church cornered the market on by performing exorcisms, the Protestants, attempting to lessen the Catholic church’s power, redefined demonic possession as “nerves” or madness.  This new way of thinking caught on.  What began as a play for power came to define what became  known as “a case of nerves” or the belief that some people were high strung something mainly afflicting the upper classes.  Presumably the lower classes, the peasants didn’t have time to be high strung or if they were, they didn’t have the means to do anything about it.  In reading about the nature of illness and how it has changed over the centuries, it is striking to note how little we knew then (it seems laughable) yet, there is still so much we still do not know or understand.  The remedies applied in the eighteenth century seem bizarre, but in the context of autism, no more bizarre than so many of the remedies I have tried on my own daughter.  I expect that in fifty or a hundred years from now we will look back on much of what we think we know or do not know regarding autism and think how barbaric it all was.

For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism, go to:   Emma’s Hope Book


At 2:30AM this morning, Emma appeared at the side of our bed.  “Carousel photos?” she asked, her voice tense with agitation.

“Em,” I began in a quiet voice.

“It’s okay,” she interrupted me.  “Take a deep breath, it’s going to be okay.”

“Yes, Em.  That’s right and right now it’s time to go back to sleep.”

“Photos!” she said with urgency.  It was clear, she felt I was not taking her seriously enough.

“Yes, I know Em.  We will find them tomorrow, I promise, but right now you have to go back to bed,” I said getting up.

“It’s okay,” Emma repeated as she took my hand and allowed me to lead her back to her bedroom where both the lights were on as well as a lit flashlight, lay on her bed, amidst piles of books and photographs.

It looked as though she’d been up for quite some time, before making her way into our bedroom as a last ditch effort to find the missing photograph.

She carefully took her blanket from it’s designated pouch and pushed all the books and pictures from her bed to the ground.  “Time to go to sleep,” she said.

“That’s right Emmy.  It’s going to be okay.”

“No school bus,” she said.

“Yes, you have school in the morning, but it’s time to go to sleep now and we’ll find your photo in the morning,” I said, turning out the light.  I sat with her for a second, listening to her breath.  “I love you Em,” I said and then I left.

As I made my way back to our bedroom, I marveled at the fact Emma was not screaming, not even a whimper could be heard from her room.  She had returned to her own bed, having obsessed about a missing photograph, which months ago would have been enough to set her off for a good two or more hours.  Perhaps even more incredible was the fact she went back to sleep, not to rise again until after the rest of us had awakened.

These are the seemingly small events, which added together create a larger picture of progress.

This morning when I got up I noticed a pile of her photographs on the seat of the armchair in our bedroom.  I picked them up and put them near Emma’s bedroom door.  About ten minutes later Emma appeared, carrying the pile of photographs.  “You found them!” She exclaimed.  Though I knew she meant that she’d found them and her relief was all too apparent.