New Year, New Behavior

Often at the start of a new year, we note things that we would like to change about ourselves or our lives. We make resolutions and take steps to lose weight, be healthier, save money, or achieve a goal.  We are determined to improve.

Yesterday, I began preparing Nigel for his doctor appointment at the end of this week. He tends to detest these medication-management appointments, being asked to rate his mood, and answer other questions that he would rather not. So I thought that I’d prepare him a few days ahead of time, asking him some of the questions that I recall the doctor asking previously, so that Nigel can start thinking about his answers. “How would you rate your mood?” I asked.

“Fine,” he answered as usual. Then he added, “But I don’t see any changes.”

Surprised and intrigued at this part about “changes,” I pressed further. “What changes are you hoping to see?”

“My behavior. I want to not get angry so much so that I can go back to regular school.”

And my heart thumped as I understood what I had always wondered. Even though Nigel is much calmer with homeschooling than with mainstreaming, he is an extroverted autist, and he misses being in a more social environment. Even though he is regularly involved in Boy Scouts and attends a weekly social skills class, it’s not enough for him. He craves more. The sad part in all of this is that, because of his autism, he usually can’t handle more. It is very difficult for him to regulate his behavior and emotions. He is learning, but I’m hoping there is some medication that can help him with this. He has been on Zoloft to help with his OCD symptoms and anxiety, and that has been beneficial. I explained to him that the medication that he’s been on is not designed to help with behavior modification, but that there might be medication available that can help with that. One of his problems is that when kids do or say something to purposely agitate or upset him, he blows up, and he’s not able to regulate himself. Then he ends up getting in trouble, and it becomes a vicious cycle, because it’s fun for the bullies to upset him. Suggesting to him that he “ignore” them does not work for him. He is not able to ignore them (in my opinion, they should not be doing it in the first place, but that is another issue).

I don’t know if there is a type of medication that can help him with his behavior. We’ll be discussing it with his doctor, but if any readers have any suggestions, please let me know. I’d love to have Nigel be able to attend the local public school, at least part-time, because it would mean so much to him. His new year’s resolution is to go back, and I want to help him achieve that goal.

11 thoughts on “New Year, New Behavior

  1. Fearless Females

    Nick is very similar in that he gets very upset very easily at other kids (he’s sensitive) we had to put him on Luvox and it works great for his anxiety and ocd (probably the same as what Nigel is on already) however, he does wait until he gets home to “blow up” about the kid that bothered him and we talk it over, just he and I.

    Nick is also in a special needs classroom most of the day—with a few exception and classes. It helps Nick to stay focused and he is not so overwhelmed by the other kids as much.

  2. Em

    Son18 has suffered so many times just so the bullies could have fun teasing. But he wants so much to fit in and have friends. It is a double-edged sword and it breaks my heart at times to know he wants it so badly and his struggles get in his way.

  3. mama mara

    We’ve had a little luck with Guanfacine, a med that was originally created for controlling blood pressure. It somehow tamps down that “fight or flight” response a little bit for kids on the spectrum. It’s a relatively benign med overall, and it can take the edge off for someone whose anger can spike suddenly.

    Otherwise, is he motivated enough to do some cognitive/behavioral therapy work to deal with his reactions? I keep hoping for the day that Rocky will want to do the work, but he doesn’t care if people are disturbed by his outbursts.

    Keep us posted.

  4. Becky

    I wish you great success at the doctors office. My guy is 7 almost 8 and is also and extroverted Autistic. Your Nigel reminds me of my Josh. You give me such hope for the future. I than you for that.

  5. Sarah Woods

    My daughter is very similar. I don’t know where you live, but if there is a Sudbury School nearby, run, don’t walk for an admissions interview. Public Schools can’t compete with the environment – just perfect for kids like ours.

  6. Tanya Savko Post author

    Everyone, thanks so much for your suggestions and especially for your empathy. It is so appreciated. I’ll write an update after the doctor appointment.

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