Tuesday, December 23, 2008

caregiving: "Hello! You little brat!"

In a recent study of MS patients, … 62% reported speech and voice impairments. Cognitive problems can be a barrier to communication. … 48% displayed cognitive dysfunction

While pushing Patti through the aisles Christmas shopping, a young girl wearing reindeer antlers and jingle bells was leaping about wishing Hello and Merry Christmas to all ...

… until she was stopped in her tracks by Patti’s, “Hello! You little brat.” Patti was NOT in a bad mood, her MS was preventing her from communicating appropriately.

These are the caregiver moments when I wish I had a big sign “MS Zone” or something. Then again what would that even mean to most people.

Dysarthia, in which the capability to understand, remember words and construct sentences is not lost but the ability to speak clearly becomes affected. Slurred speech, together with impaired mobility, can sometimes lead to accusations of drunkenness or decreased intelligence.

Dysphasia, in which there is a lack of understanding of what is being said and an inability to recall the vocabulary and grammar necessary to build a sentence, hesitant disjointed speech affects confidence and demands patience on the other end.

Disinhibition is one of the rarest behavioural symptoms of MS and linked to MS-related damage in the brain. People experiencing disinhibition may have little or no awareness of others' feelings regarding their actions. Making a hurtful or inappropriate comment is frankly the milder end of a loss of their sense of social rules.

Attempting to defuse the moment by introducing ourselves to the formerly happy child , I hoped that putting names to faces might help Patti.

“Patti, say hi to Laura”

“Hi Laura! You little brat!”

Realizing this was going nowhere, it was easier to offer the child a conspiratorial wink and a whispered aside, “Don’t let her bother you, she’s really the Grinch in disguise.” … Recovering with a giggle she bounced off happily.

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer
web site: http://caregivinglyyours.com/
videos: http://www.youtube.com/daddyleer
musings: Patrick Ponders ...


  1. such a delicate balancing act isn't it, Patrick? you are glad Patti is aware of others around her and wants to interact but at the same time, there's always that wonder of what will be said. I know because of my experience with my daughter, that nothing would phase me in stores if someone had a temper tantrum or cut me off or said something,I just took it as a grain of salt; hoping others learn to be so adaptive too

    Merry Christmas!


  2. Cute, I could just picture the child's face, LOL

  3. What a notive idea to give the little one a smile once again. I had to laugh a little myself, although I know Patti didn't mean it, there have been moments in the stores lately I've wanted to utter those same words. (Hugs)Indigo


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