For most kids, getting a cold wouldn't be too remarkable an event. But Janey almost never gets sick. She honestly has gone years without a sick day from school, years without a fever, years without a cold. It's quite remarkable.
Yesterday, however, she woke up obviously sick. She was coughing a huge cough, and her nose was running. And she wasn't happy, not at all. I thought about what my mother has said---if you didn't know what a cold was, you'd think it was something very serious based on how it makes you feel. And Janey had next to no frame of reference for her cold. I can imagine how scary it felt for her.
She spent much of yesterday in fury and tears. After about a month of fantastic behavior, it was hard to see. When she is good, she is SO good that it's almost hard to imagine how bad it can get, although you would think we'd have better memories than that. She came to my bed first thing in the morning and immediately bit me, which she hasn't done in quite a while. I had to pull her off me. She didn't bite again, but there was a very lot of screaming and hitting and fury, and some of Janey's unique brand of angry mischief. She took a two liter bottle of soda and poured it in my dishwater, she threw ice cream at the television, things like that. It was a long day, but I kept reminding myself how she must have been feeling.
This morning, despite her cold, which was about the same, we decided to take her with us when Tony drove me to the doctors for a physical. That was a good decision. It seemed to reset her mood. She was all smiles, and although she's been acting out a bit more today than on her very best days, overall, she is far happier than yesterday.
This cold has led me to think about a few theories I have about Janey's autism. I truly think that something autoimmune is at least a very big contributor in Janey's particular case to her autism. Our family is auto-immune central. Just about every one of us on both sides has something going on that is an auto-immune issue. I think maybe Janey has some small illness around the age of 2 and a half, and her body hugely over-reacted. I can't remember the illness, but it wouldn't have had to be anything big. It was the reaction that was big, way too big. I think that same overactive immune system keeps her from getting sick, even when she's exposed to all the illnesses other kids in her classes have, or when she was at the hospitals she was at.
And I actually think this cold might be a good sign. Maybe Janey's body is letting down its guard a little. Maybe it's no coincidence she finally got sick now, after such a great stretch of behavior.
Of course, I'm not a doctor, or a scientist, or a researcher. I am sure there might be all kinds of flaws in this theory, and I might be totally off, but it's a theory that to me, anyway, makes sense.
In terms of how we react to Janey, I've been thinking about how calmer behavior on her part leads to calmer behavior on our part. If Janey had been in one of her very tough moods for a month leading up to this cold, we would have been much more discouraged by her behavior yesterday. But at least for a day, we did pretty well handling it, I think. We stuck to what we know works with her---keeping her active (which would have been hard if the illness was more severe than a cold), keeping our speech tones calm, keeping her well fed, telling her verbally what we planned to do and where we were going even if we were only leaving the room for a minute (that's especially important with Daddy!)
I hope Janey's cold is a quick one, and she goes back to her healthy ways, but I wouldn't mind a little illness here and there if it means her body is relaxing a bit, physically and mentally.