As Germs Circulate, Please Consider the Immunocompromised Children

A special needs parent urges others to keep sick kids home from school

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by Jackie Babiarz |

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There are a few things I enjoyed about how people responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. I loved the birthday car parades, socially distanced trick-or-treating at Halloween, my husband working from home, and how life in general seemed to slow down. From the perspective of a special needs parent, I appreciated the strict school guidelines requiring parents to keep their children at home when symptoms appeared. I wish they were still enforced and followed.

Now that we are entering germ season, my anxiety about my immunocompromised daughter, Cammy, skyrockets. Cammy has Rett syndrome, which affects everything about her and her health. She relies on others to keep her safe and healthy. We rely on others to be smart and avoid going to school or out in public when they are sick. Unfortunately, we do not live in a world where common sense and compassion for others dominate.

Since I have been back to work teaching, I think about Cammy every moment. When a student coughs, sniffles, or has a runny nose, I worry that I will bring the germs home to Cammy. If Cammy gets sick, it can progress from fighting it at home to spending days in the hospital in the blink of an eye.

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‘Tis the season of anxiety

Thanksgiving is the first hurdle. Some years, we’ve had to divide and conquer. My husband took our other daughter, Ryan, to celebrate Thanksgiving with his side of the family while I stayed at home with Cammy, who had a minor cold. We stayed home not only for Cammy’s health, but to protect loved ones who have weakened immune systems who would be at the gathering.

After three more weeks of school and being exposed to more germs, Christmas is the next hurdle. We rely on our extended family members to overcome fear of missing out in order to protect Cammy. Otherwise, we’ll spend part of our break in the hospital with Cammy.

Once we get into the new year, we still have a long stretch of winter germs to overcome. March is the next hurdle we have to get over before my anxiety eases. It is the final triggering month that historically lands Cammy in the hospital, due to what seems like the common cold.

I am hypersensitive to those with weakened immune systems. I am also acutely aware that not everyone has the support to be able to stay at home with a sick child. It is my plea as a parent of a child with profound special needs to defer back to the COVID-19 protocol about sending a child to school or venturing out in public when sick.

Note: Rett Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Rett Syndrome News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Rett syndrome.


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