It isn't too surprising to know that a lot has gone on since August. Anyone with children, not yet children on the spectrum will know that every day is an adventure, not yet 4 months. So going back a bit, the summer was a little rough for Daniel. His puberty was in full swing and (we believe) this, on top of his autism was/is causing him to self injure and occasionally, coming at myself and/or my husband. It seemed to gradually increase throughout the summer. Many have asked, "was it also due to the unscheduled summertime?" Possibly. That used to be a huge problem, but at some point he always adjusted and settled in to a summer routine of parks, pools and lakes. This summer, he escalated. In about August, I'd had enough. Actually, my last post about our amazing experience with a successful tooth pulling. made me start looking at some of our choices a little closer. I am referring to the fact that Daniel has never been on any sort of medication for anxiety.
Medication is not my favorite thing, personally. If there is a laundry list of side effects that will come from whatever it is, I will be that person in the .05% who will experience it. It's just the way it is. So I try my hardest to avoid it. It's not always possible and I am not against it. I do not judge those who choose the path of medication. I think everyone should do what's best for them. I just like to try everything else, first. In our society where people want a magic pill for everything, I admittedly may have gone too far in the other direction. I am slow, but eventually I'll see the light. I believe what changed my mind was that one Valium Daniel took to go to his dental appointment. He was so relaxed. It made me see how HARD it is for him. Every day. I know that, of course. But after that I couldn't shake the feeling that I am making his life much more difficult by not looking into something to "take the edge off" and that it is possible for him to not be completely drugged out (my fear) and to just feel a bit less anxious every moment of his life.
The other thing that happened was his social skills teacher,who he'd seen for years, came to me and said some parents of other kids in his group have said to her that their kids were becoming afraid of Daniel because he was escalating so much in group. He never touched anyone, but his intensity was SO great, and sometimes he'd hit himself or the table etc. Now, I would like to argue that in JUNE I TOLD her this was an inappropriate group for him. The kids were too little. I thought that was upsetting him. He is used to being with kids his own age. She had him with this group because of his language deficits. I understand that. But it wasn't working any longer. I knew that and had talked to her about it. Several times. She asked for another chance to make it work. Then came to me saying parents were calling her etc. I didn't think it was very fair. I told her I was going to start exploring some new avenues with Dr's and would get back to her when we had it worked out. Well, it's pretty much worked out, but I'm not getting back with her yet. Frankly, I'm sort of pissed that she didn't listen to me and things escalated to where they did. And I'm mad at myself for listening to her when I knew she was wrong. So that is in a holding pattern. I think he was due for a break anyway and the money saved hasn't made me upset either.....
So we went to our pediatrician and talked about Daniel hitting himself in the head or banging it. Biting his hands HARD, and charging at us. The fact that he is now 5'10" 198, (that is today, not in August, but you get the point) wasn't helping. Zachary was scared of him. It wasn't pretty. Fast forward to being sent to a psychiatrist, I'll call Dr Q. We did the assessments, answered endless questions and filled out even longer questionnaires. You know the drill. I'll skip the details. We decided to start mild. He started with 5 mgs of Buspar once a day, at night. About 4 weeks later we added 5 more mgs in the am and a few weeks ago added 5 more in mid afternoon. As Daniel says "my pills make me less anxious". And they do. It is a pretty mild medication and it seems to be helping, A LOT. I am happy to see that he is feeling more relaxed. Some of his compulsiveness has eased up. He is doing much better. Oddly enough, none of this self injury had transferred to school. He would work SO hard he would save it up for me. A few things happened at school that he couldn't handle and it wasn't until he was alone with me that he came totally unglued. For that I am thankful. It doesn't always feel like a great thing when you are the person who it's being saved for, but it's nice to know you are the safety zone.
Now we have been instructed by the psychiatrist to write down when he hits himself or bites (which has become his preferred thing). My mother in law gave me a notebook in my stocking. This is it.
As my own little joke to myself, this is what I'm using to write down the self injury log. It isn't a bad reminder, as you are writing down what led to your child beating his head with his fist, to take a deep breath, and carry on.
So here we are. I always knew this time would come. Medication. I also knew it would probably be during puberty. He turned 14 this fall. He is the same height as I am. He is growing up. I think this is one of the best decisions we have ever made. I think I waited too long, but that is par for the course with me. I can just be thankful that we took the steps we needed to for our family, and most of all, to help Daniel feel better about himself. It's a new year. Follow your gut and do what needs to be done. I'm glad to be back in blog land. Keep Calm and Carry On!