I used to love Magic Slates when I was a kid – those black wax drawing boards with gray plastic sheets on top. Not so much because if I messed up, I could start over, but because I could adjust my drawing as I went along. If I started at the top and worked my way down, I could lift up the film a little bit to make changes. Nothing was set in stone.

And so it is with behavioral medication. If a certain type isn’t working, you can try another one. If the dose doesn’t seem right, you can increase or decrease it. And when you think you’ve reached a point where it’s no longer necessary, you can stop taking it. Or, you can ask your mom for six months until she agrees.

Nigel had an appointment with his psychiatrist on Friday afternoon. As we often do in that office, we waited for quite some time before she opened the door to the waiting area. And then she called in someone else whose appointment, we learned, had been scheduled forty-five minutes before ours. I looked at the doctor, and she suggested that we reschedule, which I got up to do. I was shocked to find that she had an opening just a few days later, and we took it.

We got back in the car to leave, and Nigel began his negotiating process. He’s been doing this with me since at least October – telling me that he wants to stop taking the medication, that he doesn’t think he needs it anymore. And I respond the same way, telling him that he feels this way because the medication is working. But this time was different. This time I thought about the fact that he has been on Risperidone for fourteen months, and in the last twelve months, we have not increased his very low dosage. During that time, his height has increased by five inches (!), and his weight accordingly. At this point, the medication is probably having minimal effect. And even though it helped him when he really needed it, I’ve never felt comfortable with him having it in his body, and I’ve looked forward to the time when he could discontinue taking it.

And I think that the time has come. He has enough medication left to gradually wean himself off of it for the next three weeks. Half of that time is Spring Break, so it will be a low-stress time for a transition. And we’ll be checking in with his doctor tomorrow to confirm our plans.  

What’s comforting is knowing that, as with my childhood toy, we can always start over. If it turns out that we were a bit premature and that Nigel still needs the Risperidone to help regulate his behavior, we can always have him start taking it again. But we wouldn’t know unless we tried, so we’re going for it. He thinks he’s ready, and now, so do I.  

11 thoughts on “Re-Evaluating

  1. tera

    Thank you for using the magic slate to put this into perspective. Kaeden’s risperidone has gone down to a minimum, with another drug (seroquel) which is working better for him now. The combination seems to be working *a bit* better. What bothers me now is my fear of allowing him to wean off. Not that he asks, as he still really needs it to function, but because though the drugs help, I am not completely aware what the side-effects are doing to his body, and it bothers me. But the fear of his behavior without medication is even higher.

    I will never be completely comfortable with medicating, just as I wouldn’t be comfortable without it. This autism gig is difficult. But knowing we can stop, start over, put it away for awhile and come back to it later…it helps knowing that. I’m so happy Nigel feels ready. I wish you both much success with your decision.

  2. AmyLK

    That is WONDERFUL that you think you can take away the med! And a good outlook to know that it can be started again, if necessary. I hope it works that he can come off of it. Fingers crossed for you!

  3. fighting for my children

    Thats great that Nigel feels that he can regulate his behavior himself now and that you think it is now possible. Good luck to you both.

  4. kyra

    ooh! i am sending out prayers for both of you! it sounds so very promising and i’m so impressed with nigel for how tuned into to himself he sounds about this!

  5. Elise

    I hope that he doesn’t need the med anymore. But if he does then its there for him.Over the years we have gone through numerous med cocktails to find what works and what doesn’t. I would love to not have to medicate the boys, but on the other hand, thank God for the medications that do exist for it gives them the ability to have the life they are entitled to.

  6. Anonymom

    Elmer has just gone through something similar. “Mom” he announced, “I don’t think I need Prozac any more.” I think he’s right. And as you point out, if he’s wrong we can always go back.

  7. Brenda

    Sorry, I couldn’t read anything after FIVE INCHES in twelve months. Good grief! That’s a growing young man. In so many ways. ((hugs))

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