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Choking Incident


“This weekend Kat would take someone by their hand and bring them to the bathroom with her” I wrote in the notes to the teacher. “This was the first time since she usually just tried to go by herself. She also responded to 'Kat, give mommy a cookie' and brought it over and tried to feed me. She responds to 'sit down,' 'eat,' 'cookie,' 'banana,' and 'up.' I remember being thrilled that my 3 year old could understand 6 words.

Come November I had to cut her hair off completely again to try and stop her from eating it. My fear of her stomach or intestine getting plugged with the trash she was eating, was stronger than the importance of her looks. Not only did she eat trash, hair, and paper, but she had a peculiar preference for food. Her diet consisted of light color foods, rice, noodles, bread, chicken, ham, and hot dogs. Sausage, apples, bananas, and oranges were OK. No red sauce, no vegetables, nothing green or yellow or red was allowed to even get close to her mouth.

When she ate, she would pile a lot of food into her mouth at once. One afternoon, I remember her sitting at the kitchen table eating sausage. She started choking on the sausage so I picked her up by her legs and smacked her back few times hoping that she would spit it out. But nothing came out. So I kept doing it but I could see her body limping and I screamed for Bridget to call 911. Bridget was only six years old. She dialed the number but was so scared she could not explain to the operator what was going on. I put Kat down on the floor grabbed the phone and between tears rushed an ambulance to our house.

As I placed the phone back on the receiver, I looked at my baby’s face as her lifeless little body started to turn blue. At first I picked her to my body yelling "No!" but then I jumped up again and picked her up again and smacked her back more. After the third or fourth time, big piece of sausage fell out of her mouth. I put her down again and watched her little chest start breathing again and blue fade to a pale white. Few minutes later, I opened the door for the ambulance.child with autism at play

They checked her out and said she was OK, but I told them that I wanted her checked out. In reality I did not want to be alone since I was not sure if I was going to faint myself. Everything was spinning in my head especially a though of what might have happened if I did not help her in time. Ever since, her food was sliced to tiny pieces.

She was learning things at the school such as some songs and labels but I knew deep inside that we were moving her skills up at a rate of a bicycle trying to catch a jet. I started tracking words she understood and was able to repeat. I think creating these lists made me feel like we are making progress. Her lack of eye contact was always an issue. Copious notes refer to her eye contact improving but I guess improvement is relative. At that point though, we were grateful for any improvement and did not want to hear status quo or regression.

By the time she was 3 and a half, she was able to point to colors red, blue, and yellow and some pictures of body parts.


Danuta - Kat's Mom, December 2, 2006