Saturday, April 3, 2010

#34 Medication

At Jack's developmental pediatric appointment last week, we opened discussion about medication for attention. Jack's therapists and teachers all agree that his short attention span and easy distractability are starting to get in the way of learning. No one is overly concerned yet, so we're starting the discussion now so neither George nor I freak out in the fall if it becomes a necessity. We've never liked the idea of medication, but then, there's a lot we've had to face that we didn't like in the last four years.

So, today's question is this: what are your experiences with medication for attention in children with autism? Good, bad, ugly?


Kim said...

Dear Susan and George, It is a really tough decision and one we made after years of soul searching. Our child has learning challenges other than autism, but his issue with inattention was definitely interfering with his learning. As he became older, he was able to articulate how the teacher would be talking about a subject and that he would retain perhaps the first 10 minutes of teaching. In terms of homework, he would come home, sit (reluctantly) to begin and would not be able to remember how to complete it. Again, he would say that he remembered how the teacher had explained to complete the homework, but that essentially the information was gone. I think the most compelling argument for us to try the medication was around the issue of increasing confidence and reducing anxiety around completing academic work and just being at school in general. We now are challenged with re-shaping some "learned" behaviors, but generally see our child as a more confident learner. We want our son to always have the dips and peaks that make him, him but I must honestly say that for this moment in time, it was a good decision for him. My thoughts will be with you.

Kristin Erickson said...

Susan, I think you and George are brilliant to broach the subject now rather than be freaked out by it in the fall! That is excellent wisdom, and I thank you for sharing it!

We have not needed to discuss medication, so I have no input on this one. Good luck with your your gut, you know Jack best!

Also, you can try it and change your mind or alter the decision, right?! May that take some of the pressure of the decision off of you!

Susan Raihala said...

Thank you, Kim and Kristin! Kim, I'm so glad the medication is helping your son.

Anonymous said...

We have two tales - Connor is/was very hyper in addition to autism, but he was also incredibly impulsive & becoming aggressive to the point where I was worried about being able to contain him without hurting him. He was also injuring his brother. We had talked about medication options for years (the psych mentioned she had it in his file from 3 years previous!) and finally at age 7 took the plunge. The difference was incredible. He went from being in the "learning centre" for 90% of his day to 100% inclusion in the main class, and succeeding there. Keeping the 'dips' that make Connor, Connor was important to us too, and the psych has our same attitude of using the least amount of medication to be effective. His first medication was Adderall, and now he takes Strattera, having developed more anxiety as he ages & Strattera being useful for that as well. He's now 11.
Our younger son, Riley, has some OCD and anxiety thrown into his ASD for fun. We approached medication much more quickly for him as his stims progressed into self-injuring - biting, ripping skin, and finally obsessive hand-washing. He takes Zoloft, and it hasn't eradicated everything, but it is definitely making a positive difference.
Having the time to research & make decisions is golden - but for me working with a great psych makes all the difference. I trust her with their lives, you know? We're lucky to have her.

Susan Raihala said...

Thanks, Jessi, Kristen, and Kim! Since we've accepted the possibility of doing this (at least I have...DH may not agree ;) ), it somehow seems less scary. Jessi, your point in having a doc you trust is HUGE. We do trust the dev ped enormously. I'll keep you posted.