ASD is difficult, even for the high functioning, but for almost 8 years I’ve been able to give my son some focus via his daily dose of concerta. It isn’t much, only offers 12 hours of clarity, but it’s all we have. Because it’s a 12 hour release it makes mornings and evenings difficult at times. It means getting up for school is a fight, getting out the door includes verbal abuse and forget homework. Showers are a task, although once he is in he doesn’t want to come out; his own tranquility. He also finds peace under forts made with blankets and under boxes that find their way home. He will build himself a place to hide whenever possible and enjoys the quiet.
This is how it’s been for years. A roller coaster of ups and downs filled with laughs and tears, tantrums and breakdowns. Of course just when things seem to be on a ‘regular’ schedule in walks the hormones and pressures of becoming a teen. The last few months I’ve seen the anger increase and focus fade; more so in the last couple of weeks. The tantrums, inability to control his anger, depression, all increased to an uncontrollable level. He was lashing out, his own cry for help, to teachers, siblings, family, and classmates. It became extremely difficult to speak to him, as if he didn’t know us and had no remorse for the horrid words and actions.
Then over a two-day period it went from worse to catastrophic. In school suspension, leaving school grounds after specifically told not to (school function) and extreme verbal abuse with a family physical altercation. It was 48 hours of pure hell and left me with one choice… After he and his older sister struggled with one another where he continuously called her horrible names, I tried to get him to reason. His anger included taking his frustrations out on my car, refusing to communicate with more than one word answers and him asking me to call the police on him. He finally got into the car and through uncontrollable tears I managed to call a local child wellness center. As I cried into the phone I drove to their location. Continuously I asked him if this was what he wanted. I explained that it was not a punishment but a way to help him. Each time he said ‘whatever’ as if challenging me to do it. As we pulled up I again asked him again ‘is this what you want?’ and same reply. We were buzzed in and one of the nurses remembered our phone conversation. She explained the intake procedures and the terms of ‘baker act’. I asked for a moment so that my son and I could chat. The answers were still one word but he was calm. I, on the other hand, continued to speak through tears.
Again approaching the counter I asked the nurses opinion. She heard my conversation, knew some of the issues and suggested we at least stay for the evaluation. At least another 45 minutes went by while we waited. Finally my son said ‘I’ll tell you what’s wrong in the car’. This gave me a glimmer of hope as I had continuously asked him who or what was causing this new rage and disrespect. After what seemed to be an eternity I agreed. I explained to the nurse that we were going to talk in the car but that I also wanted information for outpatient therapy. She told me the what to do should it become worse and how to have him brought back in should we feel unsafe.
He and I left and we talked while we drove. He explained issues with classmates and teachers that he didn’t enjoy and I explained how respect was earned and if he gave it he would get it in return. I know these confessions were not the whole reason for his actions and that he had outgrown his meds but for the moment my tears left and his smile returned and that was such a needed relief that I gave in. Things have been better since that moment but still have some attitude. This week we go back to his psychiatrist and he gets to hear this mama bear roar. I did try calling him a few weeks back when things started to go down hill but he offered no assistance. I also called after Hurricane Irma came through and I was forced to cancel my son’s appointment, as the new time was two weeks out and he would run out of meds. Needless to say the lack of response left me to handle things on my own.
I decided after the above event to pull my son off of his meds. I told no one. I didn’t want family, friends, school or anyone else with an opinion to base (or blame) his lack of medication for any actions. It’s been a struggle but making it work. His focus is gone but he seems mostly happy and the outbursts have gone down but I know we have our work cut out for us. This is MY baby boy and I will do whatever it takes to get him through this, and whatever else life throws at us. He will succeed and he will find happiness and peace.
I’m happy to say I haven’t had tears since that night and even joke that the well ran dry. Life is a struggle and autism doesn’t make it any easier but as a family we will survive!