Now Reading: How sick is he? Should we send him to school?

How sick is he? Should we send him to school?

(originally written & published on August 6, 2012)

Here’s another little thing that the folks with NT kids that can talk take for granted.

Kyle woke up feeling a little warm this morning. He had few sneezes and one cough.

He won’t let us take his temperature by mouth or by ear. He’s too old to take his temp in the rear. And we’ve yet to find or invest in a good/accurate forehead thermometer.

So we’re stuck with guessing and trying under the arm which can be 2 degrees lower than the actual temp.

I tried under the arm. And he was 97.5 degrees. So does that mean 99.5?

So then beings the discussion between the me and the wife.

“Should we send him to school?”

“Is this the beginning of something?”

“Will going to school make it worse?”

“The doctor always says not to worry about anything below 100.5”

“But now that he has seizures do we have to be more cautious with fevers?”

“But it’s his last week of summer school and he’s really been enjoying it. I’d hate for him to miss the last few days.”

“If he stays home are we keeping him home because we’re afraid that sending him to school will make it worse or are we keeping him home to prevent other kids from catching it?”

Etc, etc, etc. I don’t want this to sound like we are in a panic. We know it’s just a cold or something but we still have a decision to make…

School or no school?

Meanwhile Kyle was acting totally normal… bouncing on his ball watching Sesame probably wondering what all the fuss is about. But then he’d sit still on the couch for a bit longer than usual…

“Maybe he’s lethargic. Should I keep him home?”

I left for work and the wife was still undecided.

If only the dude would tell us!! Or act sick when he’s sick!

She brought him to school a half hour late and told the teachers the whole story, told them to watch him closely and to call her and she’d pick him up early if he showed any signs of fever or a bad cold.

No calls… He had a pretty typical day at school. A little more bitey/ nibbly/ frisky / spitty than usual but that’s about it.

You’d think after 9 years we’d know what to do when our kid is sick, but every time we have the same discussions/ debates.

And there’s no pattern to it… sometimes he gets a cough, sneeze low grade fever and it leads to nothing and sometimes that’s the slow beginning to some week long infection that requires antibiotics.

There’s no method to the madness…

If only he could tell is what he’s feeling…

Although usually when he is sick, he becomes more typical. He’s actually a pleasure when he’s sick. There’s data that backs it up. Google the autism fever effect.

Here’s a TIME Magazine article on it…,8599,1889436,00.html

Anyway, he seems fine tonight except slightly more saliva play / juiciness and slightly more hyper. So I’m sure tomorrow morning we’ll be having the same debate.

And all this is positioned against the backdrop of us going on a week long lake vacation next week and we don’t want him sick while we’re away…

Anyway that’s my new long rambling blog post…

Over and out…



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Written by

Frank Campagna

I’m a 48 year old neurotypical dad with a 14 year old son with severe, non-verbal autism & epilepsy. I created this blog to rant about autism & epilepsy while celebrating my son who I affectionately call “the king” :-).

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14 People Replies to “How sick is he? Should we send him to school?”

  1. Have had this very issue this week. It is never an easy decision to make and I always worry that school will frown upon me if I make the wrong decision. Added into this, my child has a high pain threshold so what we see as maybe not so bad, could be a whole lot worse than we think. It's always a tough call when you just aren't 100% sure but like everyone in the same boat, we make a decision and hope for the best 🙂

  2. Amazing how us parents of non NT kids are in the same boat. It is so true when my son is sick he is bubblier and enjoys playing more. But as a mom I always take precautions. If he is running a fever I'd rather keep him home and watch him incase his seizures come back.
    Hopefully Kyle will be ok for you to enjoy your vacation

  3. I have noticed the "fever" effect with my littler son for sure! It amazes me- he also seems much more typical when on antibiotics….

  4. As a teacher and parent I know that dilemma well. Even with NT kids it can be hard to know when to keep them home. I keep three questions in mind for myself, my kids or my student who are sick: 1. Can I/they still do the job (i.e. can the sick person still complete thier normal tasks)? 2. Will I/they get better if they stay home? 3. Am I/Are they going to make others sick?

    Generally they only time I call parents to have them come get a sick child is if the child has been vomiting, has bad diarreah or is a lot more upset than usual. Most years this means only 2 or 3 calls for the whole class. I find in my special class that it's usually better for the child and the parents to keep the child at school if they are still capable of following directions and aren't spewing too much extra fluid.

  5. We deal with the same with my 8 year old who is nonverbal. Not to mention u cant tae it in his ear because they r always on fire. We make lots of false doctor appointment. Lol It's a guessing game for sure!!

  6. Frances

    My 11 year old with ASD is very verbal & he still can't tell us when he's sick. Even vomiting isn't a sure sign of illness, because he usually vomits due to sensory issues. Fortunately, he now allows us to take him temp in his ear.

  7. Anonymous

    Yes, this is a problem at my house. The thermometer doesn't go under his tongue so the only way I can take it is under the arm. However, I now judge by things like how red his ears are or how warm his neck is. Sounds crazy but it's too hard to tell how accurate the oral reading is. If it's borderline I may give him meds to lower the fever and wait for a call from school, too. When he was younger, though, I always kept him home. Never wanted him to catch something at daycare, yet he caught RSV from a child who was brought to daycare with it. You guys are questioning all the same things we do, too. 🙂 We're all normal, concerned parents! MaryK

  8. jen

    Ah yes….we have the same problem at our house….. thermometer and all. Twice my son had pneumonia and the only sign he had was that he was breathing a little…just a little…. hard when he was running around like crazy.

  9. I do so love reading things your write. I do not get around to all. Nana from Mo. raising grandson I so get this one with Jaden. Do I take him to the doctor or not on what he does not or better said not able to know when he is sick or tell me always. I have so many ? at times. What do you do. I have raised kids one had seizures. Yet this all with Jaden a whole different playing field. I take him anyway. I always say with that ? they give well what does he complain of I so love that. How many times do I have to tell you all he is not able to tell me what hurts cause he does not know he is in pain. He is not able to tell me where he does not feel good. duh. He is verbal most the time sometimes. It is back and forth. All so different then what it was like raising my kids. Yet I would not change a thing I love my journey with my grandson, what a joy, with it all, still them moments we grasp when all is well and you get a moment to join them and see the world from where they see it. Wow what I learn in my moments with my grandson. What a wonderful world he sees. Thank you again for all your post.

  10. Anonymous

    Add 1 degree for under the arm AD. We found a thermometor that you hold to the temple that if pretty accurate. It works for our 14 year old severely Autistic son, but they are all different. =)

    Kris, Mom of Devon

  11. As a teacher in an ASD program I have alo of parents send them in sick as long as there is no fever. When they are sick they are angels or devils… no happy medium. The hardest part too is they have no backup childcare.

    1. Anonymous

      Hey Anonymous August 7, 2012 8:51 AM:
      You obviously have a huge beef with someone…take it up with the appropriate person instead of blasting a bunch of innocent people on this blog. If that's your attitude towards parents/students I'm sure glad you aren't my daughter's teacher.


    2. Anonymous

      Agree 100% it's like school is the only place they can bully and force their child on. Staff don't want other students to get sick or get sick. Parents except their child coughing in their face fine your child,the parents who refuse to provide tissue for their child who cannot wipe their nose.Parents insult school staff,bully school staff because staff cannot be 100% honest with parents.The fact is parents can bully the school district all they want but whatever they demand in a iep the iep is only good during school hours this is your child the rest of your life.How do you demand a 1 on 1 for your child @ tax payer's expense would you be so demanding if you had to pay for it the way some parents demand the school to buy ipads really !!! why ? there is much more to be said that when I retire I will write a book a honest book for the parents. That as much as staff do all some parents do is fine faults,they do not want to be attack,spit on,this is school and as much as they care they are not their parents and your child is not the only student in the class.A parent should fight for their child rights but when you try to educate a parent and they say I know my child better then you fine why send them because that staff well take a step back and say ok,your child @ 3pm I go home on weekends I'm @ home on school breaks I'm @ home in the summer I'm @ home,I see you out dealing with a meltdown but because of your comment staff avoid you or the fact that you have made it clear you will sue in a heart beat plus after 3pm staff can't be held responable. Another thing is when a child get away from a parent @ home or the store etc… it's consider a accident,but if that same child do the same thing @ school the parent want to sue the school have staff fired it turn into a incident really !!! why ???.

  12. know the feeling! Our son is the same. Temp ONLY in the armpit. He too will often run a low temp with a cough and then nothing happens. Other times it takes a course or two of antibiotics. While our son is verbal, he NEVER acts sick. Only when he had the flu did he act sick. He too has had febrile seizures, so whenever he runs a temp I start to panic. Right now we have a cold, and we are debating on whether or not to send him to STAP camp tomorrow. Ugh, such big decisions for our kiddos!