Medicine for our child with Autism & ADHD

autism, medicine, adhd

It took us about 7 years to receive a diagnosis for Eli.

That was for Asperger’s, he’s now considered to have High-Functioning Autism. A year later, he was diagnosed with ADHD.

My husband and I were adamant about not wanting any type of medication, other than Supplements for Elijah. I told his therapist that we have seen the effects medicine can have with all the different medication changes and side effects my husband has suffered.

We opted for behavioral intervention first. For a while, we thought things were going well. He’s never had problems academically. As a matter of fact, he’s been ahead of his peers in things like math and reading for as long as we can remember. He’s also never really had issues making friends.

His problem was keeping friends and fostering his friendships. He had anger outbursts from Hell and would snap within seconds. There was no control and no amount of behavioral intervention seemed to have helped. Not to mention his total inattentiveness. He could barely sit long enough for him to complete five math problems without wanting to jump out of his seat.

He was constantly fidgeting. Just pacing back and forth. He kept forgetting his backpack, and pencils, and paperwork.

It seemed like his mind was outrunning him!

Then came 2nd grade

Everything he’d experienced seemed to be elevated to a new level!

We couldn’t get through to him. He would completely shut us out. Yell. Scream. Kick. Become aggressive, never physically but verbally.

It was overall just extremely difficult for him to regulate himself. When he was in a calm state, he was able to repeat the steps he had learned to calm himself down. He would explain to us that he can take a breather. He knew he can ask for a break. He knew he could make use of his special space in the classroom.

He seemed to understand it. He also said that he would apply it, because when he did take his steps he felt so much better.

We didn’t expect him to become a perfect child that never did anything wrong, and never had threw a tantrum. That’s just not feasible.

But at this point, his meltdowns, anger outbursts, and inattentiveness (etc.) not only affected him, but his entire class. They affected the very people who were supposed to be there to help and guide him.

We all felt almost helpless

So, one day I approached his therapist and told her that we had talked about trying medication for him. She seemed a little relieved, to be honest. I think it’s because she knew how strongly we felt about not putting him on medication. But after I explained to her that we can’t even get through to him during his what we call “moments,” she mentioned that she was planning on talking to us about potentially trying medication.

His therapist is amazing. She has stood up for Elijah since day 1! She’s been an advocate for him behind the scenes, and we cannot be more appreciative!

The process of getting him into seeing a medical professional wasn’t too difficult. And luckily, since I tend to be on top of things when it comes to Elijah’s care, (which hasn’t always been the case and I won’t lie, there are still mishaps) I had all the paperwork filled out and sent to the clinic within 48 hours-ish.

Meeting the “Talking-Doctor”

Every time Elijah hears the word ‘doctor‘ he flips out. He thinks that he will have to get blood drawn or given a shot. This creates massive anxiety! I mean to the point where I literally have to carry (drag is probably a more appropriate description, but not really politically correct) to the office.

That’s why we came up with a name for her: The Talking-Doctor. Sounds a lot less threatening, doesn’t it?

The day we met his Talking-Doctor, I told her we did not want Elijah on any form of stimulants AND we want the least amount of medicine!

She said OK and we started to go through a list of medications. She explained to me what meds she would like to try him on: why and what alternatives we may have if this option doesn’t work.

From meltdowns to being cast of the school play

Last year this time, he could only dream about being in the school play. This year? He’s part of the cast!

Granted, he is not playing a big role. Nevertheless, it is such a huge improvement!

Our goal right now is to stick with the medicine and allow him to apply the behavioral concepts.

As much as we were kicking and screaming at the idea of medicating our child, we opted for it anyway; because at that point in time the school and therapies had exhausted their resources.

We had to try something else!

And so far it’s working!

autism, medication, adhd

Disclosure: Everything I share is solely based on my personal experience and is for informational purposes only. This post contains affiliate links. For more details please view my disclosure policy.

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    • Alisha says:

      Hi there. Thank you, but I actually didn’t find it as sad as you may feel it is. This process was years in the making. One of the personal advantages I’ve had was that I studied Psychology and have had a great understanding of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ process of diagnosis, therapy, and other treatment options. And we have a wonderful therapist our son works with. She has helped us tremendously through this journey. It really has been just that, a journey; and I’m ready for more. =)

  1. Kristin says:

    What great parents you are! To care so deeply and want what is best to the point that you are willing to be open to changing your mind for the good of your child. I worked with kiddos with autism for many years with a masters in behavior analysis and therapy, and it was incredibly rewarding and a special time.

    • Alisha says:

      Omg! Thank you! It’s really not often that we hear from complete strangers that we are great parents. haha Normally, we get the “look,” or the subtle eye-roll, and sometimes a fleeting comment about how our child is just another spoiled brat. It did take a lot of reflection and thought, but there comes a point where all the behavioral therapy doesn’t work if the person can’t receive the information.

  2. Shakirah (Iman) says:

    I love this! As someone who has a family history of mental illness I think it takes courage to say what we are doing is not working. It is so easy for people to say not to use medicine and so very hard to live the behavior. It is outstanding your first reaction was not medication but that you knew when it was time to bring it into play. I am a strong believer to try behavioral therapy first. Sounds like your family is on the right track and congratulations to him for getting a role.

    • Alisha says:

      Thank you so much! He is so excited about being part of the play. I will say, it wasn’t an easy decision at all to make. But we are glad we did. At least now, he is on his way to receiving the information therapy is giving him and he can [hopefully] apply it on a regular basis.

  3. imsimplyadad says:

    Have you ever tried any dietary changes with your son? Based upon the meal plans you have listed on your site, there is an enormous amount of things you could try with diet alone. I’ve seen many parents have success with a simple gluten free diet. Personally, we had to go much deeper for my son. He’s on a paleo diet, but we also limit the sugar and carbs. I love that your son is doing really well on the meds and that has given you a break, but look into diet changes as well. I write extensively on my blog about treating autism with diet, but look into Dr Daniel Amen’s new book Brain Warriors. He is an EXPERT on the brain, and his recommendations could really help you understand how food affects the brain. You could also look at reading Dr Perlmutter’s books: Grain Brain & Brain Maker. Keep fighting the good fight Mama! If you’re interested in how we treat my son you can look me up here.
    My son is quite low functioning, so if I can do it, you can do it too. Perhaps, now that the medicine is helping him calm down, making diet changes would be easier.

    • Alisha says:

      Oh yes! Dietary changes was actually our next step! Since I suffer from chronic pain myself, we are definitely taking this into consideration. When you grow up in Germany and enjoy the goodies…it’s really difficult to change that. haha!

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