This blog is updated from an interview Dr. Buckley did with Leigh Attaway Wilcox for her AutismSpot.com Blog
Way back in training, we were taught to remember that a person with schizophrenia could also have hypertension or appendicitis that needs to be managed. When my daughter developed autism, her disease manifested very dramatically at the same time- there was no ignoring the problem. I will never forget the photos that Tim Buie, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Harvard, showed at a DAN! Conference. A little girl had chewed her arm raw with self-injurious behavior. He showed her endoscopy photos- horrible esophagitis. He treated her with Zantac, and the photos from six weeks later at recheck showed that not only her esophagus but her arm were healed.
I have had more than one child, as they were finally able to speak, and as we treated their disease, tell me that they were always in pain. At one point I had my daughter journaling with a new med we tried. The only thing she wrote, day after day, was “My tummy doesn’t hurt any more!”
We know that the vast majority of our children have disease of some sort. If we think for just a minute about how hard it is to work or function when we have belly pain, it should give us pause as we reflect on our children’s “behavior”. My daughter, as she begins to speak at conferences, has said repeatedly “Everything we do, we do for a reason- we are usually trying to communicate something to you. And sometimes we’ve lost control of our bodies.” So I try to always think hard, before assuming that something is purely behaviorally based, to look for what might be physically wrong to cause a “behavior” in a child who can’t communicate with me about their pain.