Friday, August 13, 2010

Mosquitoes, Sunburns and Water

We are always really careful to sunblock our kids. I've always figured that if we can get them to 18, and they still love their bodies and they haven't had any major sunburns, then the rest of their life is not my problem. Well, that was my theory.

Jack is currently covered in mosquito bites. We did spray him all over, I swear I did, but even with bug spray, this trip, and in particular in Cedar Falls where we stayed two nights ago, has been filled with mosquitoes. Shawn and I found ourselves continuously smacking blood-filled creatures as we sat outside and watched the kids play on the playground. Katie kept swatting at the ones near her ears and the nape of her little baby neck. The kids were so happy to be playing in the twilight, that we stayed outside longer than e normally would have. When we got inside the RV to survey the damage to our skin, I was shocked by how many more bites were surfacing on my boy, and it dawned on me that we need to be even more diligent with Jack and anything that causes pain or discomfort.

While some children with autism need to change their clothes the minute they get wet, and others are desperate to get away from the tags on their clothing, Jack seems to have one of the highest pain tolerances in the history of man, or maybe he doesn't, but because he can't express his pain, or needs clearly, we have to guess a lot. Three inch mail in his foot? All we got from him was one sharp breath, and an awkward walk. Cold little toes while playing the snow? We'll never know. In addition to the autism, Jack has cerebral palsy ataxia, so his coordination probably precludes his ability to smack a mosquito in the right place at the right time. He just can't make up the difference between the spray and the most determined bugs.

It's also been hot. Actually, it's been record breaking, nearly not-compatible-with-life hot, so offering Jack enough to drink can get tricky. Luckily he has a very demanding sister, so we're able to use her needs as an additional gauge of Jack's needs. For those of you traveling and summering without a 4 year old demando-machine, it might be important to create some sort of chart, or alarm system to remember to check all of those pieces which keep our kids healthy. Sometimes the only indicator we have that Jack is physically uncomfortable is "bad" behavior. Acting out on a walk, could be my non-verbal boy's way of telling us he has a blister on his foot, or he's thirsty, or he's hungry.

At home we have the sunscreen in the bookcase by the back door. Before a kid goes outside for the first time each sunny day, they get sprayed down. We have now put the sunscreen and the bug spray in the little cabinet by the door of the RV. Routines. We love 'em don't we?

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