Counting My Chickens

So you know how when you blog about how well your child has been doing lately, very soon after that something happens just to keep you in check? Just to tell you don’t-be-counting-your-chickens and such? Yeah, that’s what happens. Apparently I forgot to knock on some wood (does my particle-board desk count?) when I wrote a few days ago about Nigel possibly discontinuing Risperidone sooner than I’d thought. About him learning to regulate his behavior on his own. Yeah, about that.

First, a disclaimer: Nigel has a really full plate right now (sort of like the one who gave birth to him). He’s enrolled in a full day of classes, in a transitional year (adjusting to a new school as well as a new level of school). And although he’s not experiencing the bullying of middle school (a huge relief), he is experiencing some stress in keeping up with assignments. Add to that the time spent in wrestling practice (Monday through Friday, right after school until 6:00 PM), and he doesn’t have much down time, which he sorely needs. He needs to have his time to watch movies, build Lego, and read. But he also loves wrestling and doesn’t want to give it up.

Any given day of the week is full. But Tuesdays are too much even for me. On Tuesday, he has school all day, then wrestling practice. I pick him up around six, we rush home, wolf down our dinner, he throws on his uniform, and we run out the door to his Boy Scout meeting. Boy Scouts is another thing that he loves and has been doing for several years. I sit off on the sidelines with some of the other parents while he participates in the meeting. Afterward, we go home, he showers, brushes his teeth, and has a little time to read before bed. It’s a long day for any kid, and especially for an autistic one.

But this week, this Tuesday, was like nothing I’d seen in a long time. Someone gave him a stick of gum when we arrived at the Scout meeting, and it was all downhill from there. His behavior was through the roof. No screaming (fortunately he seems to be well past that), but he was all over the place. Running around, acting like a little kid at a playground, disrupting others, bouncing off walls. It was like he had ADHD and was in a manic episode at the same time (for four years, I lived with someone who had ADHD and bipolar disorder, so I have some experience with this combo). I tried to discreetly redirect him, calm him down, but he exploded at me in response, making a scene. I kept watching the clock until the meeting was over. (In the past, I’d tried giving him his evening dose of Risperidone before the meeting, but then he literally had his head on the table the entire meeting and was falling asleep.)

As soon as we got home, I went directly to his pill organizer to get out his evening dose for him. It was then that I discovered that he had not even taken his morning dose. And I was relieved. I was so relieved to have an explanation for his behavior, having spent the entire meeting wondering what the hell was going on with him. Any other day of the week, a missed morning dose would have gone unnoticed. I know this because I don’t get any calls from the high school as I did regularly when he was at the middle school. And it was the same with this particular Tuesday – no calls regarding any behavioral disturbances. Amazing. He missed his morning medication and went through a full day of classes, a two-and-a-half-hour wrestling practice, and a rushed dinner without a single issue. That, my friends, is rather impressive.

But that last push with the evening Scout meeting was just too much for him. So, now I have my answer. He does still need the Risperidone, especially on Tuesdays. But he really is learning to regulate his behavior at school, which had previously been a big concern. All things considered, he’s doing pretty well with his full schedule. Even better than the one who gave birth to him.

18 thoughts on “Counting My Chickens

  1. Kate

    Well, glad he is doing so well all things considered, and that you found this out before you decided to stop the med. 🙂

  2. Tera

    well, glad you discovered the explanation. there always is one, even when *we* don’t see it. Nigel is doing really well to have so much happening in his life. But yeah, I definitely know the feeling of “don’t be counting your chickens”. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve lived that little scenario. Kaeden is ADHD and autistic…the combo you describe by scouting is what we always live. He seems so much younger than his years as he runs around playing. Sometimes on the playground I am almost embarrassed, I hate to admit it. Other times, I’m so glad he still feels like he can be a kid.

    Anyway, don’t worry about the meds. Nigel seems to be doing okay, and if he needs them for just a little longer, well, so be it. Remember, they’re there to help…and make life easier…for both (all) of you.

  3. jess

    those moments can be a blessing in disguise, helping to guide you toward what he still needs or doesn’t – but it doesn’t make them any easier.

  4. Paulene Angela

    Looking at Nigel’s schedule, busy busy plus hormones kicking in, believe me he’s doing great. Come to think of it so are you Tanya.

    My life is 5 steps forward, sometimes 6 back sometimes only 4, or 2 on the left, but slowly we progress forward.

    Counting chickens does get confusing.

  5. mama edge

    Excellent post, Tanya. It’s a good reminder that we need to assess the need for meds on a regular basis.

    For my sons, at least so far, I’ve found that psychiatric meds have worked like insulin for diabetes, treating but not changing the fundamental chemical imbalances in their brains.

  6. furious

    good thing you found out now instead of finding out the hard way. The way I describe it is if someone has an illness they need their meds. If it helps why wouldnt we give some meds to our kids too?

  7. corrie

    That’s exciting that he was able to get through the day without the meds. So there does look like hope that one day he might not need as much. That’s my hope for Jonathan too.

    In the meanwhile, we have those days which prove that he still needs them now. And I’m glad to see that we aren’t the only one experiencing more difficult days when the activity level is high. On the one hand, I know soccer stresses him out, but on the other, he loves it. He’s decided to only do soccer one season a year. This might be good.

  8. Kim

    He sure does have a full plate! I’m still so excited about the wrestling!

    It’s always good to find an answer to when the behavior spirals downward. Glad you figured that out before stopping the meds completely.

  9. Carrie

    That IS rather impressive. My feeling re: meds is, if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.

    OMHOG living for four years with someone both ADHD and bipolar.

  10. M

    my tendency is to count the eggs after the hatching. things go well…new chicks running around, alive, happy…i’m focused on all of those broken eggs.

    this med was really a major transition for nigel…he was going to be going through so many new situations, he needed something to give him a bit of leverage…and it’s really exciting that the meds have helped. gives him more control over what he can do, manage, and that’s wonderful. nigel: it’s amazing to me that he never takes the easy way out. he wants the hard road because it’s more rewarding. he’s got a huge amount of character, personal strength.

  11. Macrina

    ooh, I remember my high school years packed with sports and extra-curricular activities, sometimes it was too much! And I’m sure Mom felt the pressure too. But I wouldn’t have changed a thing about it, I hope Nigel is having the time of his life!

  12. Brenda

    Whew. Tuesday’s gone! That just makes ME tired reading it. A little spontaneous experiment with the meds. And voila, an answer. Hang in there, mama.

  13. Cinda

    Thank you for the post. I have a question for you. Now that Nigel is in high school is there a transition plan on his IEP? I am kind of the “transition queen” of WA ( and am always curious about other states from a PARENTs perspective.

  14. Nicki

    That IS a very long day! It sounds like Nigel did a great job holding himself together for most of it, considering he didn’t have his meds! Did he say anything about it afterwards?

  15. Tanya Savko Post author

    Everyone, thank you as always for your support. I just want to mention, since I don’t think I was clear about it in the post, that I’m not resistant to the idea of needing and using medication in general. What I’m concerned about are the side effects, some of them possibly permanent, that Risperidone has a reputation for causing. That’s the main reason why I’d like to get him off of it as soon as he’s ready. But, it really does help him, and so far he’s not showing any concerning side effects, so we’re sticking with it for the time being.

  16. Robin

    Just a thought, was there anything in the gum that might have been a trigger – aspertame? Red dye 40? Our kids are so sensitive to stuff, maybe things he can normally handle on that day tipped the scales.

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