A couple months ago I wrote about mysterious allergic reactions Martin was having: puffy watery eyes, runny nose, and (later) spots on his face. We suspected maybe a food was the culprit and also started searching for environmental culprits. We also started treating for chronic Lyme disease. The spots have not recurred.
We have, however, had more sneezing and watery eyes. Then, last month, yet another symptom arose. My mother-and-law and I took a day trip with Martin to “Fun4All,” an indoor playscape way out on Long Island. We sat in the snack-bar area while he climbed, bounced, and looked for a friend. Every so often Martin appeared at our table, drank some water, and scampered off. I noticed he was sweatier than usual, and breathing heavily. I was happy that he was exercising so much.
After 90 minutes, Martin was too sweaty, and breathing too hard, and his eyes were watering, and he was coughing. I asked if he wanted leave, and he said he did. Whatever reaction he was having was severe enough that I started looking for triggers. I’d noticed a kind of chemically smell, so I took a picture of a sign posted in the restroom, which said that Fun4All is cleaned with “Simple Green D Pro 5,” a “one-step cleaner, disinfectant, virucide, fungicide, sanitizer, mildewstat & deodorizer” that is “hospital grade.” (In my world, that sounds scary. Very scary.)
We exited Fun4All. In the parking lot, I realized that Martin was wheezing. He was having a full asthma attack, like the attacks that strike my older brothers, who are asthmatic. I used my iPhone’s voice-memo feature to record Martin’s labored breathing, so I could share it with his pediatrician. Then I loaded him into the car and gave him a bottle of water. The wheezing faded within twenty minutes.
That was the first asthma incident. In the four weeks since, Martin has experienced half a dozen more, each time after exercising: ice skating lessons, bicycle riding, playground. He’s also coughed, a lot, had a generally runny nose, and breathed heavily at night.
The search for answers entered high gear. I contacted our environmental consultant to retest our house for mold and mildew, which we also had done before we bought the house. I talked to Martin’s autism specialist (his biomed doctor), who advised me to bring Martin to his pediatrician for traditional allergy testing. The pediatrician also sent us to a traditional allergy/asthma specialist, to evaluate the results of the pediatrician’s tests and to conduct additional tests. I requested a phone consultation with Martin’s homeopath.
Soon we were armed with an albuterol inhaler as well as a nebulizer for bronchodilators. (I don’t like to use pharmaceuticals with Martin, or with myself for that matter, but when it comes to breathing, I am not willing to mess around.) We also found, I hope, some answers.
This is the first of four posts on A&A, allergies and asthma. The next three will cover the potential triggers we’ve discovered. I hope that, in a few months, I will be able to write a post about resolving the Martin’s A&A.
I’m not happy about any of this. We’ve been fighting autism for years now. I don’t need any more A’s on my plate.
I have followed your blog since my sons diagnosis in May. I wanted to share our experience with Asthma, we had a lot of wheezing when my son started day care around last september, took him to a pulmonolgist in Dec and was put on inhaled steroids, and upped the dose in Jan end, even though there were some signs of hyper actvitiy before, he started blank stares and other stimming right afer inhaled steroids ( were told steroids indded make you hyperactive), his teachers told us they could tell the difference when he had got a puff/puffs in the morning vs when he did not.Then we met another pulmonologist who said he really did not need steroids, he has been off them now, doing ok as far as lungs, but the stimming never went back after this, it was almost like the steroids made it come out.
So, please take multiple opinions on need for steroids. My son also has mix of regression and classic autism, but definitely regressed, was a happy & social toddler. he is 3 years 3 months now
I also had a question for you: have you heard about Chiari malformation and surgery, in any of the autism conferences you have gone to etc.., my son has a 14 mm (big but not many direct symptoms, except lack of interest in riding his bike any more and clumsy, we have to decide whether to gov ahead with surgery or not, but it has been seen to help autistic kids, was wondering if you knew any thing.
Hi BK, and thanks for reading my blog. Two responses:
1. I too have heard about the dangers of steroid use for spectrum kids. We have been fortunate—we haven’t needed them yet. Martin has been able to get through his wheezing so far without having to use the albuterol. We have it on hand, in both inhaler and nebulizer form, just in case. Here’s hoping we never need it.
2. I don’t know anything about Chiari malformation. In fact, I had to look it up when I read your comment. I guess it’s also called Arnold-Chiara malformation and means the cerebellar tonsils displace through the basis of the skull? Do your son’s doctor’s speculate that his Chiara malformation is related to his autism? Is it common among kids on the spectrum? I would be very interested to hear what you have learned.
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