This individual is a twenty-five-year-old man with no verbal communication skills, totally deaf and blind. He was born with a genetic condition that made him this way--Norries.

We hired somebody who was willing to communicate with him using American Sign Language so he could better express what he wanted or needed. At some point while we were out, he got really scared because he couldn't differentiate between his mother and the new assistant, who were both trying to sign to him. I tried to engage him into eating or drinking something since last Friday, but for the last twenty-four hours, he's refused to eat.

I read that nobody can survive without water for three days, and food for three weeks, but I can't explain to him that if he doesn't at least drink something I will have to take him to the hospital. What's more, he won't let anyone poke him or prod him while he's awake. :/ Normally, we would know if he was sick or had an upset stomach, but he appears to be well, otherwise. I wonder if the experience with the new assistant had traumatised him to where he's depressed? This kind of behaviour has never happened before. He's always had a good appetite, grabbing for food whenever he was hungry. He has no other condition that I am aware of that could hinder his ability to feel hunger or pain. What can I do? I am just helping out my mother because she doesn't speak English, and my brother and I are both blind, except that his condition is made him deaf as well. If he doesn't eat in an hour, I will call his on-call physician.

  • I reopened your question because you edited in the appropriate information. Thanks! Mar 4, 2018 at 17:08
  • I really apologize if this sounds disrespectful, but from your question it sounds like he is profoundly blind. Given this, how is he able to see to communicate in sign language?
    – Vality
    Sep 12, 2018 at 21:20
  • Let me ask you this. Isn’t it true that you can physically manipulate them what is camping to the farm and have them repeat it? Either find a way to close your eyes or have some flips room, and have somebody sign into your palm, and then physically manipulate your hands into the farm they want you to make. I am on my iPhone, so I do apologize for any dictation mistakes. Look up resources like Helen Keller national Cemtre and in the van of technology for the deaf blind. Sep 14, 2018 at 5:01

1 Answer 1


I hope someone can give you a better answer than mine.

I assume you've tried the usual: tempting him with his favorite foods/drinks?

The fact that he's deaf and blind without other neurological conditions means he probably can't override his body's regulatory mechanisms of drinking when thirsty. It takes an incredible will to go on a hunger strike (and yes, people have died, because over time, the hunger diminishes as the body shuts down), but the drive for water is overpowering, which is why 'thirst strikes' are very rarely successful.

If he seems fine and is producing urine, he's probably fine. But no one should give medical advice on the internet. When in doubt, speak directly with your health care provider.

  • When you say, 'you can't override his body's regulatory mechanism', what do you mean by this? Does that mean that his refusal to drink something would be overpowered by the physical sensation of thirst and the emptiness in his stomach? Mar 4, 2018 at 17:40
  • @HeavenlyHarmony - His stomach being empty has nothing to do with thirst at all. Thirst is regulated strongly by sodium concentration in plasma (the fluid red blood cells are suspended in.) The longer he goes without fluids, the more sodium rises, the more fluid is drawn from extracellular spaces, the more hormones released and the more brain centers are activated which result in the sensation of thirst. If there is a problem in the brain, this might be overridden, but thirst is a very powerful feeling. Ask your health care provider about it. Mar 4, 2018 at 19:41
  • Thanks, @anongodnurse♦, for that information. He finally ate and drank a lot of water on his own. We're so relieved. I just hope he won't get more traumatised into not trusting even his own mother. Mar 5, 2018 at 2:49

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