Tuesday, June 13, 2017

April 4th- Daily Autism Post- Depression, Anxiety, and Medication

Asperger's info for the day... I often get asked if there are medications to help with Dexter's Asperger's. The simple answer is no. However, other things are commonly associated with Asperger's that can be helped with medication. Dex is also diagnosed with ADHD and general anxiety disorder. (He definitely doesn't have the hyperactivity aspect like Jabe does, though.) After two years of trying to manage things with coping mechanisms, OT, and a therapist, 2nd grade culminated in about a three-month stretch of meltdowns, outbursts, panic attacks and depressive episodes that made it impossible for Dex to function on a day to day basis, let alone be in a classroom to learn. At this point, we sought out medication options to manage his anxiety and inability to focus in order to see if we could manage his depression and outbursts.
These months were the lowest of the low. My 7-year-old told me and teachers that he didn't want to be alive anymore. For my baby to know such despair was heartbreaking. During this time, I felt trapped, physically and emotionally. I couldn't help him or make it better. I couldn't be more than 10 minutes from the school because he needed me to bring Tori in all the time to calm him. Meds made all the difference. His general anxiety level came down dramatically. This allows him to utilize coping mechanisms. He's able to verbalize his frustrations, ask for what he needs, remove himself from situations that he can't handle, or tell a teacher he is upset and ask for solutions if he doesn't know any. This, combined with medication for ADHD allows him to have the focus to not give up immediately when his school work is hard because he can push through.
So, the bad... There are periods of serious lows. Depression, anxiety, lack of focus, trial and error in finding the right meds and the right doses, not being understood... these are devastating things to deal with, especially as a child.
The good... It's not just about struggling through the lows and hoping there is good on the other side. It's finding the solutions. Medications, coping mechanisms, out of the box learning techniques, teaching him to surround himself with people who don't expect him to change who he is, learning to love his brain and finding the advantages of how his brain works... these things empower him. He is more capable of turning things around for himself. That has given him a feeling of control over his life. He will tell you when he's done somewhere and needs to go home. He can tell his teachers if he can't handle being in the classroom because it's too loud or if he's mad. He is more proactive about solving his problems than many adults I know. I know there are more struggles coming. That's life. But I'm raising a child who wants to take control of his own life. Not an Aspie who wants to do that. In this respect, he's just an empowered, kick-ass human.

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