WARNING: This post contains graphic information of the sort that my husband refuses to read or discuss at dinner. You may want to skip this one. I know he will.
My two worst school-related illnesses were transmitted by one kid on the autism spectrum. Here’s the background on “Adam.” Because he was so socially impaired, Adam had never developed those valuable pre-kindergarten antibodies; he was never close enough to any student to share materials OR germs. When he started kindergarten and learned to sit and work with a group, Adam caught everything. Of course, he hadn’t learned to manage the bodily functions associated with these illnesses. One day, he showed up in my room, looking quite pale, while I heard desperate calls on the intercom for a custodian to report to his classroom. I wrote my first social story on “how to vomit into a toilet” for this kiddo. After he had learned this valuable skill, I found myself practicing it as well.
On another occasion, Adam came to my room for social skills instruction with a chest cold that resembled TB. As I looked at Adam’s face, with this brownish mucus oozing from his nose, my know-it-all self took charge. I gave him a tissue and said, “Blow your nose.” Adam obeyed promptly, spraying the table with the most disgusting slime I’d ever seen (except perhaps in the Alien movie series). A couple of the less distracted kids actually saw this and were quite fascinated. I regretted my assumption that Adam knew the relationship between a tissue and nose blowing. That was the impetus for another social story and my acquisition of antibacterial wipes.
Adam had a tough time kicking that “bug” so he had much-needed practice in using tissues for nose-blowing. Sadly, I had not anticipated sneezing. I don’t know what to say in my defense. For some reason, I was on a deadly slow learning curve with Adam. I was up close and personal as I demonstrated how to get all that crud from his nose. YOU know what’s coming, but I never anticipated that mother of all sneezes, which drenched and coated my eyelashes. Within two days, I had bronchitis and was eventually hospitalized for pneumonia.
Adam taught me all I ever needed to know about: sanitary.