Friday, March 02, 2007
Everyone in my family is a native English speaker, so you'd think we'd be able to communicate with each other with ease. After all, we speak the same language, right? I don't know if this is AD/HD related, sensory processing related, or something else, but my two children with AD/HD seem to express themselves differently than my neurotypical child. This shows up most clearly when they are feeling sick. I'll ask my neurotypical child what her symptoms are, and get a precise description that's almost cellular in detail. I'll ask my AD/HD children what their symptoms are, and I'll get vague descriptions that confuse me. They can be tired, but not sleepy. Their stomachs can be queasy, but not upset. Words that most people use as synonyms have very distinct differences to them. When they do describe symptoms in ways I understand, they still express them in unique ways. For example, when my son had strep throat, he didn't tell me his throat hurt very badly. He told me, after a thoughtful pause, that it felt like his uvula had been acided off. I don't think "acided" is even a word, but I got the picture. I usually end up going through a total body checklist with them when they appear sick, asking if they have symptoms in various areas until I can pull the information together to get an overall impression. None of my children have language delays or disorders, so their inability to just state the facts of their illnesses baffles me. Even when I think I have an idea of what they are experiencing, I've learned that the symptoms may change within a few hours. What started out as only an upset stomach can end up as a sore throat or aching leg muscle. I think it may be that the way they process sensory information, including their internal sensations, is atypical. They may have a vague awareness of symptoms for a while before they become severe enough to enter into their conscious thoughts, and it may take even longer to discriminate the exact location and severity of the sensations. Since I can't get into their bodies to experience what they are feeling, I will have to continue to try and translate their use of language into something recognizable so we can treat the symptoms - whatever they are!