To medicate my 8yo with ASD/anxiety?(31 Posts)
Because I feel like a shit parent for even thinking about it.....we've got a psychiatrist appointment coming up and he wants to talk about medication as a last resort to try and help.
Ds is 8. Recent diagnosis of allegedly high functioning ASD. He's gifted and no learning needs so this makes him hyper aware of his differences but doesn't really understand them; very aware of how children don't like him; very aware of change etc. He's extremely rigid, controlling and can't bare any form of injustice, even slight. He is so anxious about all of this that he's explosive. His fight or flight response is constantly hyper. He will hit / kick / trash rooms / throw furniture / rip things up. On a good day he will bite your head off for anything he doesn't like, cry over everything, shout at you, storm around the house etc.
He's not been in school properly for nearly 2 years. Vast amounts of fixed term exclusions and isolations which created even more anxiety and feeling like he wasn't wanted. He talked about killing himself every day at school because he was so anxious, lonely and sad. He hasn't attended for 6 months and things are still pretty bad at home but slightly less violent now not at school. But this week alone he's thrown an iPad in a shop because it was noisy (weekday); thrown a swim float at his instructor because he got the wrong end of the stick and thrown furniture at a relatives house because they changed a plan. All on top of the constant crying, shouting, snapping.
We're on our knees. Life is miserable for all of us. We've had 2 years of autism classes, therapy and support and nothing has changed.
Will medication help? What could they possibly give him? I can't even believe this is a thing for 8 years olds but I'm sad to say there's a little flicker of hope from it being suggested....and then I cry about it.
That sounds so tough If you have tried other methods and nothing has helped, and it has been going on a long time- I would keep an open mind and see what is said at the appointment. It might just help!
Is sleep an issue ?because it it is melatonin could certainly help and if that makes him sleep better maybe other things could be resolved?
Sleep isn't too bad...could be better though. He often takes a while to get to sleep but will usually sleep 8.30/9 - 6.30/7 which doesn't seem too bad for 8yo. Random nights he'll still be awake at 9.30/10. He does always seem tired at times.
This isn’t the place for your post, OP, and I mean that in the kindest possible way.
Your child is unwell. If he had a chest infection you wouldn’t hesitate giving him antibiotics, I’d imagine. ADs are no different really - they are a treatment for a known condition.
I’d ask for this to be moved to SN or mental health. And well done for getting him in front of a psychiatrist, I think far too many parents just soldier on.
Medication may give him some breathing space a few moments when he can take the time to make his own decision rather than acting on impulse and regretting it. Why feel guilty about giving him a chance to reduce his anxieties and be more in control.
I work with young people with asd, adhd and the Pdd. I have seen medication make an amazing difference and I have seen it not work beneficially. If you monitor closely and talk it through with your son and consultant you can find something that will help him to cope. He is upset and distressed and struggling. If he had physical symptoms of a cold you would give him calpol to help. This is no different. You are trying to help him cope not change him.
Please don’t feel guilty. Just because you can’t see the issue it doesn’t mean it’s not there,
I hope you find the support and medication that will help him and make life happier for him.
You might be better off posting on the speciAl needs boards ? My son has severe and learning disabilities so I'm not sure i could help but I'm sure p leanty of peop!e in special needs can?
I would not hesitate medicating him, he’s unwell and by the sounds of it really needs help.
I think you need to discuss all your options with the doctor and go from there.
I will say though that I think in the UK, people have many prejudices and negative judgments about using medication for mental health reasons...which, imo, is ridiculous.
Thanks. I have posted about various things on SN boards but you don't get many replies - seems very quiet.
I'm worried they will make him into a zombie or will make him even more aggressive and he'll do something awful. I'm also worried that he'll be stuck on them all his life as it's the only thing that helps him to function....
As a teacher who is working at the moment with a child with similar anxiety problems l see no issue with medication. When l see this guy and what he suffers everyday l think if anyone can help him please do. Do this for him. It must be hell to struggle so much and he might not know himself with some medication. Make no apologies to anyone. They are not living his life or your life.
My DD has ASD/ADHD, anxiety and has just started meds to help with attention etc.
I’ve always been VERY wary of medication but accept that as she is now in secondary school, hopefully, it will allow her to focus a bit better, but her sons mental space so she can process what is going on in her life etc. She was started on smallest dose which was fine then went up a stage which affected her sleeping. We went back down to lower dose. During Easter break we’ll try the slightly higher dose in conjunction with some melatonin to address the sleep issues.
All the time monitoring side effects and reviewing with her Dr.
It’s worth a try. It’s not forever, a bit like using training wheels on a bike. It should make it easier for my DD to learn coping skills etc and she won’t need it as an adult,
Work closely with your drs etc and keep an open mind for now. Good luck xx
I wouldn’t hesitate in the circumstances you describe OP!
I’d medicate my DD appropriately for any other illness so I wouldn’t see this any differently!
Well remember it’s reversible - if the medication makes him worse or doesn’t help, it can be stopped or changed. I would if we were at this point - my dd has been being dragged to school for months and it has worn us out, this sounds so much worse.
I am so sorry this feels so hard. I opened your post thinking it might be similar to our experience but in fact my advice might be inadequate as DS has great anxieties but milder than this and I do feel for you.
DS has had help to rebalance his gut bacteria and there is a strong link with a lack of lacto something or other bacteria exacerbating anxiety and for us it has made a most enormous difference- the anxieties are still there but our DS is unrecognisably happier and bubbly and even positive about school after a course of specific probiotics. I am now really interested in gut health as didn’t realise it can make such a difference but I am sure you will be better help from others here too
Thank you for the responses. I feel a bit better knowing other people might do the same!
Do you have any more information about gut bacteria / probiotics? Is there a specific product that is good to have?
I haven't had to personally make the decision on whether to medicate someone, which I can imagine is an very tough decision to come to
However I work in a school so I can offer an objective example
I work in a secondary school and there is a boy who has ASD who sounds similar to your DS. He used to lash out and seriously kick off at teachers and students and he unfortunately had to be excluded several times. He came back time and time again and each time there would be no improvement, that is until he started getting medicated
He is like a completely different person now, he is so calm and collected and there has been absolutely no problem since he started taking medication in the September just gone. You would genuinely think it was a different person. His behaviour is perfect, there has been no exclusions and no detentions because of his behaviour
There is also a teacher in the school who has a DD who she medicates. She was desperate for her daughter to go on it seeing how it can completely change the lives of children. I understand some people are funny about it, but after seeing first hand the positive impact it has on people I don't see any problem at all with medication
Don't worry about him becoming a zombie or aggressive or anything like that. With the right medication and the right dose this won't happen. The doctor will talk through any potential side effects but will also explain that they will be starting on a very, very small dose of anything first anyway.
Do not feel guilty for it. If it was any physical illness you wouldn't hesitate to give meds and this is exactly the same. If he is struggling and there is something that can help then it's certainly at least worth a try.
My son has ASD, ADHD and a learning disability so it's quite severe and can not relate fully. However, I can tell you that when he was first diagnosed I was all "he isn't having drugs, he doesn't need them, I don't want him to change and it would be lazy of me". I soon changed my tune when his behaviour got worse and worse and I realised just how hard life must be for him, and at that point I was willing to explore anything that may help, I'd tried pretty much everything else I could think of. He is doing much better now we've found something that suits him.
Good luck, I hope the doctor gives you the answers you're looking for.
When his needs are well met and his anxiety is under control - he is the best behaved, lovely funny boy but those times are becoming fewer and far between. People see him as naughty now rather than anxious but that isn't him. When he kicks off, it's like watching someone being kidnapped who will do anything to save themselves and get out of there. It's not bad behaviour, it's abject terror.
His snappiness and biting everyone's head off is wearing us all down though. It's like a self fulfilling prophecy. He believes he is bad and is upset so he shouts at everyone until they finally lose their temper and then he can then reinforce his belief that he's bad. Rinse and repeat. Throw a bit of change or injustice in and you get violence. It's exhausting.
2 years ago we had no sniff of any SEN at all. It's like a different child.
We may go down this route but with an older child. It isn't a decision to take lightly but if something that's blighting his life can be even partially alleviated safely then why not?
Sometimes medication can allow other therapies to work.
OP, been here with DD. I really struggled with medicating but it has been a revelation/lifesaver. I truly believe it is, along with her TA, the thing that has kept her at school. It enables her to control (most of the time) the outbursts when she is overloaded. As an extremely helpful professional at the time said just try it. If it doesn’t work then you just stop taking them. It’s not the case that once you start you can never stop (although always take guidance on stopping). Her comments were that nearly all parents sat in her office anguished over the decision and the majority who tried came back were adamant it was the right choice. The only thing I would say is there are different medications and dose, different ones work better for different children so you might need to try a couple. Although to give complete view the drugs are not a ‘cure’ your child will still have ASD/ ADHD and need all the extra support etc but it does enable our DD to access it. Feel free to pm.
Thank you for all these posts. Despite it being AIBU, there's not a single post saying we shouldn't which makes me feel slightly relieved that it's not a completely awful decision!
It’s not clear what medication the psychiatrist is talking about. A lot of pps have talked about ADHD medication, which is indeed life-changing, but will do nothing for autistic anxiety.
My autistic DS had awful anxiety until we started giving him melatonin to help him get to sleep. It does that but instead he wakes up early, so it hasn’t really made him sleep longer, but it has reduced his anxiety hugely.
Have you tried melatonin? Ask the psychiatrist about it. Given that it has virtually no side effects and is safe enough that it’s available over the counter in lots of countries, I’d consider that before anti-anxiety medications, which can have problematic side-effects, particularly in children.
However, if you’ve tried it and it doesn’t help, it probably is worth trying the other medications. If it improves his quality of life, it would be cruel to deny him that.
Either way, a good psychiatrist will talk the options through with you, including what side effects are likely, and make a plan about what is worth pushing through and what would be a sign that it’s not worth it.
Sorry, that sounded more negative than I intended - I’m a big advocate of taking whatever drugs you need to make life liveable.
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