Saturday, April 6, 2013

Autism/ADHD Medicating Our Children

In keeping with the theme on Autism and the ones we love, I thought I would further by sharing my experience with medicating my son. Not only is Levaughn a child with Autism, he is also diagnosed ADHD.  Where his stemming begins and the ADHD ends is a good guess, but with the help of a good physician and little self experience we recognized the signs when things weren't going to right.


As you all know, most children with Autism, stem. This is a repetitive gesture or motion that soothes their anxiety, yet drives the parent insane. That's putting it mildly. For my son, beads and repetitive motion of twirling the beads seems to be his thing. He is also the perfect mimic for certain cartoons, characters and movies.


For my son it is the inability of him to slow down from his stemming and focus in order to learn.  That simple.

The Doctor

We have had two doctors that specialize in ADHD/Autism. Both of them are very good. The first one actually diagnosed my son and started him on medications at age 3.  These were drugs to calm the constant stemming and help him with changes in the classroom. This was the office that said he would never adjust to change.  Well two things happened, we learned quickly that strawberry milk was excellent in mixing liquid meds and Levaughn did learn to adjust and was not violent so we were down to one med.

Another interesting fact, for those of you who are new and just getting into this. These medications tend to cut the appetite of the child. I would be feeding my son 3 or 4 peanut butter jelly sandwiches in the morning because I knew he would go the entire day without eating. Then when he came home, I would let him eat whatever he wanted. By the way, yes he is a picky eater. Still working on that one. No, I don't do GFCF diets because he is already limited in what he eats. I can't afford it and since he is coming along as is, will hold off on that one.

Meds we have tried (*) current medication:

Daytrana  (Age 3-4)  
-Patch Form
- Worked pretty well until he outgrew it

-Worked for a limited time during the day, needed longer lasting med

Vyvanse (Age 5-7)
-Sprinkle in food (Mixed with strawberry milk or juice)

Concerta(Age 8-9)
-We taught him to take pills (Med did not work well for him, made him angry and violent/discontinued)

*Focalin XR
- Can open and sprinkle in his mouth with water, if unable to get the capsule down.  This is his current medicine and it works well. However, it had to be combined with Intuniv.

-Works well with Focalin XR in helping him maintain focus throughout the school day

For those of you wondering why we have had so many medications, well as my son's body chemistry changed, he outgrew his meds or his system just acclimated to his medications.

Over the years, I have used strawberry milk or juice to deliver medications to my child. But as you know medications that are extended release are not that plentiful in liquid form. At least during those years there weren't any. Now there is a new med that is available called Quillvant. It is the first extended medication in liquid form.

Know Your Child

As I have stated before, we could always tell when it was time to adjust Levaughn's meds. His behavior would change drastically. His teacher would notice that the medication would wear off earlier or just was not taking at all. The next thing was his appetite. If he started eating a lot at school, we knew that it was time for a change.

Also, watch for negative changes after the medicine is administered. The anger and unwillingness of my son to work for his teachers was our immediate cue that Concerta was not right for him. In addition, earlier on he was given Intuniv and it made him very sleepy. However, now that he is older he can tolerate it better when paired with the Focalin XR.

A Hard Road

No. No it isn't easy, but take it by the horns and learn the cues, learn your child's language. Most of us with children with this disease communicate in Autism all the time. It is up to us to translate that to our teachers and physicians. I say that yes, I am bilingual, I speak English and Autism.

I hope this has helped.

L Redd

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