Here we are one year later, (April 2016), and Blue is no longer taking any psychotropic medications. He is now balancing his anxiety and sleep by taking vitamins, Omega-3's and natural supplements. Since coming off of the last medication, he has also lost 40 pounds! He no longer has a ravenous appetite. He is also working with a therapist and a group of mentors on strategies to deal with anger.
We have also been able to reduce the number of medications for Red. Proper balanced diet, including, protein, vegetables, fruit, minimal carbohydrates, and exercise have become and essential part of his life. He has lost 100 pounds.
When it comes to psychotropic medications, most autism parents have ambivalent feelings...
We hate that our children need it.
We're glad that they have it.
We despise the trial and error.
We love when it works.
We lament over the side effects.
Sometimes, we want to hurt the doctors.
Other times, we want to kiss them. (This is rare.)
I should clarify that medication does not treat autism or make it go away. It can help with some of the co-morbid conditions such as ADHD (lack of focus, always moving) ), anxiety, depression/mood disorders, OCD -obsessive compulsive disorder, extreme difficulty sleeping. Many children with autism just can not turn those brains off at bedtime. The same goes for many worried autism parents.
In the past few days, I have been reminded how important medication is for both or my boys.
I wrote a post, "Turning Blue" a couple of days ago about how well Blue is doing. There are a number of factors that are in play, one of which is a medication that works along with several vitamin supplements.
I immediately made him take his medication and literally pushed him out the door to go eat and get away from us. He wasn't finished with me yet. He got down the street and called me from his cell phone,
"Look! You better f-ing listen to me!"
Um...click! I don't think so kid. Of course, after I hung up, I prayed that he had already made it across the busy street and wasn't out there going berserk.
By the time he got home, he gave me a hug and a sincere apology. I told him that from now on he will eat something first thing so that he can take his meds. Crackers, a piece of toast ...whatever!
Think he doesn't need his meds? It's all a part of helping him keep it together.
Yes, he has made a lot of progress over the past year, but that doesn't mean that we are beyond all challenges.
Yesterday, I picked Red up from work. He works with young children who usually leave him feeling relatively happy. As he walked towards the car, the look on his face made me think he had just been fired or something. He looked angry, sad and mad all at the same time. I felt sorry if the kids had to see that face.
When I asked him what was wrong, he said, "Nothing." That within itself was strange. He never passes up on an opportunity to complain.
As he began speaking, tears started to fall.
"I don't know what's wrong with me. I've always felt like I was a messed up person. I'm broken inside. I'm scared. I'm afraid that I can't make it in life. You're just trying to kick me out and make my life as hard as possible. Dad doesn't love me. No one cares about me. Sometimes, I even think God has forgotten all about me."
It's been ages since I've seen tears from him. Even as they were falling softly, he said, "Men don't cry, I'm usually more angry." He didn't understand why he was feeling the way that he was.
My heart ached.
This morning I read an article, "Why High Functioning Autism Is So Challenging" . It described Red to a tee.
"...people with high functioning autism are, in general, very aware of their own difficulties and extremely sensitive to others' negative reactions."
"Anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders are more common among people with high functioning autism... We don't know whether the autism causes the mood disorders, or whether the disorders are the result of social rejection and frustration..."
Red being less angry and more vulnerable allowed me to see how he's been feeling for months. His feelings have been showing up as anger and negative behaviors, lack of forward movement (fear), buying things to make himself feel better (self-medication), attempts to show me that he is not ready to grow up and be responsible (more fear). He is deathly afraid of the changes that he is facing (anxiety). The possibility of moving out will be a major change. Starting some post secondary education (fear of failure) most likely feels incapacitating.
Yet, he goes to therapy week after week and talks about how he needs more equipment for his video business, instead of the things that need to be addressed.
In the back of my mind, for the longest time, I thought this particular medication wasn't doing much for him. He's still so all over the map with behavior. Apparently, it has been helping him sleep, and it does augment his ADHD medication (Focalin).
I found out he had been waking up in the middle of the night two nights in a row with a headache.
Yeah. So there goes my mother of the year award. Letting him run out of medication. Parenting fail!
The bottom line is that we both were reminded the importance of his medications ...taking all of them and taking them promptly, every day.
I think I will always have a love/hate relationship with psychotropic medications. Unfortunately, for us, they are a necessary evil.
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