Monday, May 30, 2011

Little Things Can Make a BIG Difference

This is the tiny little blue pill that has made a big difference. When my son's doctor prescribed it, she explained that Abilify was not developed as a treatment for autism, but that it seemed to help in some cases. What we were initiating was possibly a series of trial and error, taking a stab in the dark. As she explained, what works and what doesn't is difficult to predict because autistic children simply have a brain chemistry that works differently.

I didn't fully appreciate her explanation or her subsequent elation that we hit the mark so squarely with our first attempt — that is until now.

Last week, after being on the new medication for over 3 weeks, and as planned, I took away the little blue pill. On the very first day, when I picked him up for school, he crashed. I saw it on his face the moment he entered the room. When I asked what was wrong, he wailed — that mournful deep sound he has when he is disappointed beyond control. He explained, he was not able to buy a book he wanted at the book fair. I soothed, he calmed but then a wail welled up again, and again, uncontrollably. He too seemed to realize that it was more than a book. As he said, "I don't know why I feel like I do. I don't know why I can't stop crying. Something's just wrong. I don't feel right."

The next day at school was just as bad. I got a call from the social worker. Without any insight as to the timing of our transition, she had noticed the remarkable change in C.S.'s ability to control his frustration. And of course she reported that he was having a very difficult day. Unable to myself and even though pick-up was in less than two hours, I dispatched my husband to deliver the little blue pill to our son at school right away.

Silver Lining: I most certainly appreciate our success to its fullest now! The little blue pill makes a big difference. It protects my son's happiness. Any mother will tell you how invaluable something like that is. And so, yesterday, the kids and I rode six laps around our neighborhood loop on our bicycles. Vigorous regular exercise is our solution to the weight gain now. As for medication, we'll stick with that little blue pill, thank you!


  1. To those people who say that medication is a crutch, I say "Sometimes, we need crutches when something is not working right". We need food because our body does not make its own energy. We need rest because our body needs to reconnect neurons. And some people need Abilify.

  2. You say it well. But besides, I too think medication is a crutch — a necessary one. He'd be hobbled without it, prone to fall and fail. To those who imply using a crutch is a problem, I'd ask, how is not leaning on one better?

  3. Do you mind if I ask how big the dose is for his medication? We've just started Brayden on Tenex and are trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the right amount. I think we're getting closer, but he's still a little too subdued for my taste.

    1. I don't mind, but first, I reply with the two bits of wisdom I've picked up so far that I think are worth sharing:
      • some drugs are potent, more so than others. A small dosage may not be small at all.
      • small steps are need to keep something in reserve for the long haul, after all this is a lifelong condition.

      As for my son's dosage, we started with 2mg and have since moved up to 3mg. Our goal was not to fundamentally change him, but to make everything more manageable, to support him.

    2. Oh, and I thought it important to add something our doctor articulated so well, the medication was intended to help him "access his therapy and education" ... which it has. He has made great strides now that he simply doesn't react so big anymore. He is more flexible, more open to looking at a situation from another or different perspective. We still have challenges but fewer obstacles.

      I think it is important to define such goals in order to determine how "effective" a medication is for your child's — your family's — needs.

      I hope this was helpful.

    3. Yes, this was very helpful. We also chose medication to help magnify his progress in therapy. We wanted him to be able to focus on the tasks during therapy that will help him gain the most he can from each session. Our goal is to have him ready for kinder in a year and a half. I love how all the information I've gathered has said that medication is intended to be used in conjunction with other therapies.

      We've managed to get his dosage to just the right amount with the advice of his doctor and preschool teacher.

    4. did you also give abilify?did you recognice side effects such as nightmares too?regards linda

    5. Linda,
      The only negative side effects we realized was weight gain. As for nightmares, I credit Abilify with reducing those along with his general anxiety and irritability.

      BUT...each child responds in ways that are hard to predict.


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