Ok I’m exhausted and have to be up at 6am, but I need to write this. It’s begging to get in writing and time is flying by.
Tuesday was D-day. As in Drug-day, or M’s first appointment with the psychiatrist, in which she was very much herself. This means spitting, hissing, growling, rolling around on the floor, knocking over furniture & trying to run away. The good news is, I really needed the psychiatrist, Dr. H, to see this, and understand that it gets worse. I loved Dr. H and I guess A did too (she had to come along for the ride), because she kept giving him lacing cards to play with and answering the questions he was asking M. (It also turned out well to have her along as she provided a stark contrast to M and proof that it is not poor parenting! Lol)
Dr. H asked a lot of great questions and listened really well. M eventually answered a few short questions, then shut down and became absorbed in her lacing cards. I kind of felt like I got to tell her whole story to a professional for the first time…the Neuropsych she saw didn’t even seem to listen much.
So in the end the Dr. Prescribed a very low (starting with the lowest possible) dose of an anti-psychotic medication that has shown successful in treating symptoms of autism like aggression, anxiety and sensory issues. I had anticipated this answer, but for some reason as soon as he said it my heart sank and my palms became sweaty. I was really going to put my little 5 year old daughter on a serious medication. I was scared of her being over-medicated and zombie-like. I was scared she would be lethargic, sluggish, not herself. But I filled the script, reminding myself why I made this tortuously difficult decision to medicate my child. Her quality of life has been diminished (she admitted to me in a very rare totally with it moment that she is worried or angry ALL THE TIME), and she was a danger to herself and her sisters. She also very recently started displaying self-injurious behaviors.
Tuesday night I gave my little one a pill crushed and mixed in applesauce.
Disclaimer: she knew she was taking the medication and what it was for. While she hated being at the doctor’s office, she knew she would probably start taking medication and what it would do, and was perfectly ok with that.
Dr. H said within a week (2 at the very most) she would be much happier and less anxious, would stop her aggressive, angry behaviors and actually hug me and tell me she loves me! I thought that was a bit much to promise, but ok. He also told me I would be able to talk to her about her actions and she would be able to understand me, and that was my hope.
Wednesday morning and afternoon M would start to have a meltdown as usual, I would say something reasonable to her, and she would stop and carry on like everything was fine. Wednesday afternoon, on the way home from school, I had a CONVERSATION with M! A full conversation…about SCHOOL! (Before I could not ask her about her day without her throwing shoes at my head and trying to get out of the car.) She answered all of my questions sweetly and thoughtfully, with detail! Before things she said didn’t add up and she was very fuzzy on details when she even made any effort to talk.
Today, Thursday…no meltdowns until dinner, which was very late…past bedtime actually. We had a full, busy day and she was hungry & tired…any kid might meltdown in that situation. And as far as her meltdowns recently, it was very mild. She didn’t talk as much, but didn’t get angry either and was still more willing and clear than so far all year.
It’s only been a couple days, and of course there are still struggles. I had to walk M into class today and talk to her teacher since M would not speak…and she cried when I left (but she stayed in her seat, usually when I have to walk her in she runs out the door or clings to me). She still gets upset when kids approach her in the morning waiting outside the school. But she is already ever so much better! I’m already feeling like this is a miracle drug that is lifting a fog and bringing her out of the world of Autism and into my world.
But amidst this great relief there is a heaviness and a lot of questions. Am I changing or denying her “who she is”? Am I telling her I don’t love her or she’s not good enough without the medication, that I want her to be different or would change her? Does she WANT to be different, to be in my world, or does she prefer the Autism world she retreats into? Do I have the right to pull her into my world? I would ask her these questions and get her permission if I could, but she could never answer them, at least not the way she has been. And is it fair for her little sister to have to worry for her safety and worry about her big sister running away or getting hurt, or for me to have to constantly scan the environment for things M might destroy or use to hurt herself or others? I’m not sure there are any answers, but it goes to prove there is no easy answer when it comes to the decision whether or not to medicate your child.