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Teen with autism dies after exhaustion after only 15 minutes outside



LAWRENCE, Kan. – "I remember watching the nurse say," Why? "He was just hot, he was just hot," said Rachel Mikel.

The metro is getting a slight break from scorching temperatures, but this summer has been brutal.

Last week, the extreme heat turned out to be deadly for a Lawrence teen with autism. His parents now hope that their tragedy will be an important lesson for others.

"It was such a bright light, it made such funny sounds and was happy about the simplest things," said Mikel.

Rachel Mikel is still trying to understand that her 18-year-old son Elijah is gone.

"The silence is deafening" She said:

At the age of two, Elijah was diagnosed with more severe autism. Although he could not speak, the 1

8-year-old knew how to have fun and bring joy to others.

"His autism did not define him, he really put everything in perspective for us and what's important in life," said Mikel.

He loved being outside, swimming and walking. As was often the case, Elijah and his caregivers took a field trip to nature trails along Clinton Lake in Lawrence last week.

It was a hot day with temperatures around 102 and a heat index near 110. After 15 minutes left, Elijah's caregiver worried.

"She called me and said something was wrong, he sat down and will not get up," Mikel recalls.

Since Elijah had nonverbal autism, the only way the caregiver could recognize his behavior was to behave. [196592002] Rachel hoped it was just one of Elijah's stubborn moments, but she hurried into the park to check on him.

"When I got there and saw it, I knew something was wrong," she said.

They called 911. It turned out that Elijah's temperature was 108. He suffered from heat exhaustion. EMTs tried everything to cool him on his way to the hospital.

"Things seemed to be improving," said Mikel.

But his temperature did not drop enough. Doctors say that muscle fatigue quickly wears out the muscles of the body, including the heart.

"Being out in the heat on such days is really hard for the body, no matter how old you are, you can overheat very quickly, and switching from heat shock to heat stroke can happen much faster than many people appreciate it "said Dr. Steve Lauer, Associate Chair of Pediatrics at the University of Kansas Health System

And often high-heat weather warnings are not taken seriously.

"We are used to that in Kansas, it's just part of life here, okay, there's a heat report, I'll run the air conditioning," Mikel said.

But now this family has learned that the heat can be deadly and fast. They share their story in the hope that it could only help save someone's life.

"Drink water, take a break, go in. It's not a joke, it's not something that happens to other people, it's real, he was 18 and pretty healthy, so be careful," Mikel said.

Doctors say critical signs of heat are excessive sweating and abnormal behavior or fatigue. If you notice these symptoms, move to a place away from direct sunlight and drink water. Good hydration is also the key to avoiding heat illnesses.

Elijah's family is grateful for the overwhelming support of the Lawrence community, including the doctors and nurses who assisted him in the hospital and EMTs with Douglas County Fire and Medical are made in Elijah's memory of the Lawrence Humane Society and Autism Speaks.

His family also hopes Elijah's story will raise awareness of autism.

"I want to emphasize that autism did not define it, it was still special, you just never know each other's story, we often stare at people, watching and watching, and sometimes people commenting," Can you have your child do not keep calm? "And I think I want everyone to know that you do not know other people's stories, and how hard we are, just worked to make him say two or three words, it was a challenge We lived with it, but it made us love it more and it showed us how valuable life was, "said Mikel.


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