Limping along

Philip awoke around 3 am. He wasn’t crying, but he made some sound that woke me, too. I carried him downstairs.

He didn’t want to be awake, but something was keeping him from settling back to sleep. He alternated with laying on a body pillow on the couch and using Mommy as a body pillow on the recliner.

On one of his trips from couch to recliner, I thought he was favoring his right leg. It was dark, and he wasn’t standing long enough for me to get a good look. I assumed that his leg was asleep and let him climb up and cuddle with me.

When it seemed that the only thing still keeping him awake was the fact that Mommy is lumpier than any pillow, I carried him back up to his bed. He quietly laid down and was asleep several minutes later. We had been up for about an hour.

Later that morning, I put a sleeping Philip in the stroller and took the dog for his walk. When we returned home, Philip was awake and walked himself back into the house. As he moved, I noticed his limp.

I observed Philip for several minutes to confirm. He was definitely walking in an unusual way. His right leg was stiff and he had his right foot flexed so that his toes pointed up. He wasn’t crying and showed no other signs of being in pain.

It has taken me awhile to understand the implications, but I realize that Philip is under-responsive to sensory input. In the lingo of Sensory Processing Disorder, Philip is a sensory seeker. He needs intense input to really feel it. This is why he likes to jump on his trampoline (and his bed and our bed and the recliner and the couch and the floor) and crash onto the sofa. This is why he wrestles with his body pillow and his huge stuffed bear and, sometimes, Mommy.

I had an epiphany a few weeks ago. I knew that one reason that Philip has stuffed handfuls of food into his mouth is to get the sensory input. What I finally “got” was that one reason he doesn’t eat on a regular schedule is that he probably doesn’t feel hunger. We have to remind him to eat. We also have more success by first allowing Philip time to play before eating. Proprioceptive input before a meal seems to wake up his appetite.

Everything that I’m writing is based on my reading about Sensory Processing Disorder and a hell of a lot of guesswork. Philip can’t verbalize his experiences to me, so I have to observe his behavior and try to interpret its meaning. Watching him limp today, I know that something is wrong, but I have no way of knowing the specifics. I don’t see any other external indication of injury such as a bruise or swelling. He hasn’t cried or even whimpered. He still wanted to run and climb in the backyard this evening, so the unknown problem is not completely impairing his movement.

I can’t tell what’s wrong. He can’t tell me what’s wrong.

I feel like I’m limping along, too. I can encourage Philip to rest, but I’m not sure how else to help him. I considered taking him to the doctor, but what would that accomplish? The doctor would be doing just as much guessing as me. The only way to know would be some kind of diagnostic procedure. I supposed an x-ray could be ordered, but why put Philip through the stress of a trip to the hospital for something that might be completely unnecessary?

Philip will be spending part of the day with his grandma tomorrow. I warned her about the limp. We will all be watching and waiting, hoping that whatever is wrong will go away without further incident.

I am submitting this post as part of the Weekly Photo Challenge: Wrong. The picture itself doesn’t represent anything wrong, but that is at the heart of my predicament. I am operating with incomplete information. I know something is wrong, but I can’t fix it since I cannot identify the problem.

5 thoughts on “Limping along

  1. I’m so sorry to hear this, Momma. I’m glad that you have this blog as an outlet to express all of your concerns. As parents we want to help our children in every way possible… and it’s so hard when we have no way of communicating with them. I feel your frustration and I have cried the same tears. You have such a sweet a beautiful little angel. Know this, I don’t know whether or not you believe in God, but I feel the need to share this with you anyway. I feel honored to be writing to such a wonderful and strong woman. I know for a fact that you, and every other mom raising autistic children, are strong because God has trusted YOU to love and tend to one of His most precious creations. YOU, my dear, are the one that he felt was worthy enough… so I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are capable of getting through anything thrown at you or your son because God wouldn’t have given you such a huge responsibility if He didn’t think you could handle it. Trust me, not everyone can deal with what you deal with on an everyday bases. So I salute you, and every other mom who chooses to love and care for these Angels. Keep your head up. 🙂


    1. I apologize for not replying earlier to your words of encouragement. I was very touched and didn’t think I would be able to write anything without tearing up. As you know from my later post, the little guy is doing better. But it still was worrisome not knowing what was wrong.


  2. I had a very similar experience with Joel the other day on the trampoline. He was jumping around as usual, just kind of all over the place and his ankle twisted a little bit and he immediately sat down and started rubbing it. He didn’t seem to be in pain, but for about three to five minutes he just wouldn’t get up and I was so afraid he had twisted his ankle and was in pain, but couldn’t express to me how bad it was, exactly where it hurt, etc. I felt completely helpless for those few minutes and then he just hopped up and started jumping like nothing had happened. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, but I watched him the rest of the afternoon like a hawk to make sure he was walking normally.

    I’m glad he’s okay, but it sure is a scary thing while it’s happening.


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