Oct 02, 2013 2 Share

Breathing Easier

Man using nebulizer with towel around his neck.

My autism has created numerous difficulties in my life, many of which I have been able to overcome. However, there are still tasks that I have to learn. I had the opportunity to work on one of these tasks this past week: preparing and administering my own asthma medications. With the changing of the seasons, it seems that I always come down with a cold, and as I had expected, like clockwork, I did just that. This is compounded by the fact that I am also asthmatic, so once I catch a cold my symptoms are often complicated by asthma. It also does not help that for some odd reason neither I nor my parents have ever been able to fathom, my system is overly sensitive to the tiniest changes in temperatures and air pressure, making my colds last longer than normal and become, at times, severe. I have to address the cold immediately or it will work itself into a much more serious illness such as bronchitis or a sinus infection.    

When I was younger, these colds would cause me to seize up and shut out everything else around me. When ill, I had a hard time focusing and my behaviors were more erratic and harder for me to control. This paralyzing effect greatly alarmed my parents for two reasons: It was a surprising reaction that other children my age did not exhibit which made it hard for them to figure out what to do for me, and my autism prevented me from fully getting a grasp on the situation.

My parents have used a nebulizer machine since I was a very young boy to administer my asthma medications as I was never able to master the use of inhalers. These treatments were and continue to be a welcome relief for my lungs during my colds. As this cold is the first of the season, my mother thought it was time for me to learn to prepare and administer my own asthma treatments. She taught me the names of my medications and the step-by-step process of setting up their administration. I learned how to put together and take apart the nozzle apparatus I use to receive the treatment as well as how to put the two medicines I use into it. I have already known for years how to fit the nozzle onto the machine itself and turn the machine on and off. I am now learning, though, what happens after my treatment is over: I now know how to clean and dry each part of the nozzle apparatus and store it for later use.

I have been steadily recovering from my cold and now the only part of it that remains is a stubborn cough. That is lessening, too, due in part to my daily treatments. I think it is very important for me to learn more and more about what I can do for my own well-being, and I am proud that I now have the knowledge to administer my own asthma medications independently. 

My life has its ups and downs, but I am glad that I am now able to more readily anticipate and control more and more of the down moments.   

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re: asthma

Hi, Ben! Another interesting story. Sara thinks you are a fantastic writer. I think so, as well. Your Mom is a smart cookie for showing you how to manage your symptoms!

Hi, Jeannie!

Thanks for reading my column and for all of your and Sara's kind words!  I, too, am grateful to my mom for teaching me more about my symptoms and how to treat them.  She has opened my eyes many times, and I feel like I know much more about myself thanks in large part to her.  Thanks again for reading and for your support!