The Autism Society Philippines (ASP) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being of persons with autism spectrum disorder. The ASP has been in the forefront of providing services and training to families living with autism.

05 May 2010

The 25 Centavo Coin

By: Gina Bermudo, ASP Trustee


To maximize on my self imposed day off, I skipped my sons home therapy program to renew some travel documents. When I finished early, I called my best friend, Tina, to join me for a relaxing cup of homemade Morrocan tea and Bakhlava, a popular Mediterranean sweet.


Inviting friends at home for tea is my version of convenient relaxation. It is easier for me to monitor my boys’ therapy, in the adjacent room, while intermittently unwinding with friends. Click here for parenting tips.


Then the unexpected happened. My son’s therapist, Teacher Ted, came out of the therapy room. With a calm and collected demeanor, he said that an accident happened while Xandi was doing the pincer grasp exercises.


Pincer grasp is an Occupational Therapy exercise that involves picking up and holding an object with the thumb and the index finger to strengthen the fingers for fine motors.


The exercise involves Xandi using his index finger and thumb to pick up 5 pieces of 25 centavo coin and roll them to his palm. After gathering the 5 coins, then again with his index finger and thumb, drop each coin, one at a time, to the piggy bank.


Xandi was in a hurry to finish his task because the next activity was “meryenda (snack) break.” Teacher Ted bent down to pick up a pencil that dropped to the floor. He saw this opportunity to outsmart his teacher. In a split second, he slipped the remaining 25 centavo coin into his mouth for safekeeping. His plan of removing the coin from his mouth, while Teacher Ted was not looking, did not materialize. Instead, he swallowed the coin.


I rushed to the therapy room and saw my son with his mouth wide opened. He drooled and gagged while holding his neck. My husband taught me not to be overwhelmed with emotions in times of emergency, to be able to act and think clearly.


To check if his airway is blocked, I gently asked Xandi to speak and he managed to say some inaudible words. This was good sign because there is flow of air. I encouraged him to cough the coin out but he couldn’t, so I administered four back blows and Heimlich maneuver to no avail.


Together with Tina and Teacher Ted, we brought him to the Emergency Clinic near our home. An x-ray was administered to determine the exact location of the coin. The result showed the 25 centavo coin prominently in the middle, like a neck pendant.


We were told to wait for 30 minutes for the coin to find its way to the stomach and eventually exit the body as waste matter. After 30 minutes, the attending physician suggested bringing Xandi to the hospital for better management since the coin did not move. If the coin will permanently stay in trachea, surgery was advised.


As I was driving to the hospital, I cried profusely. Thoughts on the consequences of surgery to the very frail and fragile body of my little boy came to mind. Xandi has autism and other medical conditions. When I looked at rearview mirror, I saw Xandi, also with tears.


I continuously assured him that everything will be alright. He was trying to pick his throat using his index finger to induce himself to vomit. There was an effort to say something, but the obstruction hindered me from understanding what he was trying to say.


With all the sequence of events happening and with the different scenarios playing in my mind, the one thing that stuck was hearing my son say “Mommy, I am so sorry. I love you very much”. When I turned around again to look, he finally was able to manage coughing out the 25 centavo coin!


Everyone gave a sigh of relief. The high emotion in the car was suddenly replaced with inexplicable joy. When asked if he wanted to have his favorite sundae and he acknowledged with his sweetest smile. So, we all celebrated with ice cream.


What an unexpected roller coaster emotional drama on a supposed to be planned quiet afternoon. I had Xandi’s x-ray framed to remind me of that colorful afternoon – with the 25 centavo coin”. Happy Mother’s Day!


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Gina Luna Bermudo, is producer and composer of “Mga Awiting Alay sa Autismo,” a compilation of heartfelt compositions inspired by Niko (14) and Xandi (11), her two boys on the spectrum. Buy your copy of “Mga Awiting Alay saAutismo” by calling 926-6941 or 9298447. Part of the proceeds of the CD will help ASP programs and services. For more information email us at autismphil@pldtdsl.net

1 comments:

allei said...

Gin, your story touched my heart and made me shed tears... your son is very smart and very blessed. He is very lucky to have you as a Mom.

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