Friday, July 8, 2011

Our Initial Experiences With Medication

About two months ago, I wrote that we were considering anti-anxiety and ADHD medication for our son. A couple weeks after that, we decided to go ahead and give them a try.

The early results are not encouraging.

Our son’s psychiatrist started out by prescribing a very low dose of an anti-anxiety drug, then increased it a bit a couple of weeks later. He added on an ADHD drug shortly after that.

We thought the greatest change in behavior would be noticed at school or during his therapies, so we told Kai’s teachers and therapists about the medication and asked them to closely monitor his behavior to see if they saw any changes.

During the first few weeks, when Kai was only on a low dose of the anti-anxiety drug, they said that he seemed more relaxed. He endured some stressful situations, such as the start of summer school, fairly well. But the truth of the matter is that the initial dosage was very low and the medicine probably hadn’t really taken affect at that point. It is difficult to say with any degree of certainty that the medicine played a part in his early summer school success.

Since then, we’ve increased the dosage on the anti-anxiety drug and added the ADHD medication. We have noticed more changes in his behavior. Unfortunately, none of them have been good.

Kai has been tired in the mornings, and his teacher reports that he seems lethargic. Instead of being more focused on schoolwork, he is having a harder time staying on task. Worse yet, he seems more irritable and quick to anger. He has had a major incident at school every day over the past couple of weeks. Many involved trying to hurt the staff working with him, or trying to hurt himself.

At home, he has at times been less respectful, as if the release of his anxiety freed him up to be more defiant.

Perhaps the most annoying change is an increase in a loud snorting sound that Kai makes. He’s made this sound before at times, and it may have started when he had a cold or allergy. But it seems clear to me that these days the problem is not a physical one.

Kai could be sitting at the computer, contentedly looking at his favorite YouTube videos, with nary a peep out of him. But then when we ask him to read, he suddenly cannot go more than 10 seconds without this horrendous pig-like noise. It appears to me that anxiety brings this on. Is it a bad habit? Is it a tic? Is it an OCD? Whatever it is, it is driving my wife crazy, and I’m not exactly happy hearing it either.

With these developments, we called Kai’s psychiatrist to update him on how things are going. He is having us stop the medication, at least for the time being. We will see if the snorting, aggressive behavior, and tiredness eases with the stopping of the medicines. If it does, that will be an indication that the medication was the cause and the doctor will need to adjust.

This is the doctor who scoffed at the biomedical treatments that we have done. If we had these results with the biomedical medicines, I would not have been surprised to hear the doctor give us an “I told you so.” But we are finding out that conventional medicine is not an exact science either.

It is too early to give up. We will give the doctor a chance to analyze and adjust. And hopefully we will see better results later this summer and into the fall.

But one thing is for sure. We are finding out what we really already knew. When it comes to autism, there is no sure thing. There is no easy answer.


  1. I've heard that it sometimes takes months to get medications right. I hope everything works out well with Kai.

  2. Yes, we've heard that, too. We also heard in some cases that folks have had positive experiences right from the beginning, so we were hoping that we would, too. But, we'll try to be patient and hope that the doctor can find the right combination.

  3. Meds can be hard, but the right combination is amazing. Don't be afraid to try a few different ones!

  4. Thanks, Molly. We will keep trying. We just started trying a different anxiety drug and will probably add on a different one for ADHD once things settle down.


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