In the autumn of 2003, my son had his first asthma attack and had to go to our local accident and emergency unit for treatment. It was a traumatic experience watching him struggling for breath whilst the doctors and nurses pumped him full of drugs. I’ll always remember his ashen face and his little tummy heaving up and down as he lay in that hospital bed. Fortunately the medication soon took effect and he was able to be admitted to a childrens ward where there were other children with breathing difficulties. It was a horrible day; according to one nurse many children had to be admitted to hospital with breathing problems that day which I can only assume were due to atmospheric conditions at that time.
Tiptoeing – a sign of autism?
Anyway when my son had recovered sufficiently, he got out of bed and moved around the ward walking on his tiptoes. It was while he was tiptoeing that a doctor noticed and asked me if he did this often. I replied that he did it occassionally, usually at home after he had taken his shoes and socks off. The doctor looked at my son again and I looked at the doctor looking at my son. After a few minutes he excused himself and went on his business. I sometimes wonder why I remember this moment and I think the reason is that I sensed that the doctor picked up on something. Of course now I know that tiptoeing is sign of sensory dysfunction that many autistic individuals have but I have to wonder how many in the medical profession are aware of such a disorder. Indeed if there was greater awareness on both our parts, this public presentation of my son’s disorder could have potentially been picked up a lot earlier but alas it didn’t and we returned home and carried on with our lives as normal.