Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘medication


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Pudding has always had quite excellent negotiation skills. She pretty much potty-trained herself by demanding a treat every time. Later came the reward chart, and as soon as we started talking about a long-haul flight, she mentioned that she needed a Kelly doll. Okay, perhaps I mean extortion, rather than negotiation. Either way, the girl has talent.

We’re lucky in that we can use this facet of her personality to encourage more flexible behaviour. There are times, however, that she clams up, refuses to cooperate, and her behaviour spirals out of control. I hope, as you’re reading this, you remember that I wrote a post called “Behaviour is Communication“. Such a simple concept, you’d think I’d remember it, wouldn’t you? You’d think.

My excuse this time was that I was thrown by an added factor- a new medication trial for her ADHD. This is our third medication trial, and each time I’m hopeful that we’ll have success. This new medication promises excellent results in terms of attention, at the right dosage, with very few side effects. I paid close attention to her response, and saw no difference in her attention skills, a sharp increase in her irritability and hyperactivity. Somehow, going to the grocery store was even more difficult than usual. When four hours were up, and the medication no longer in her system, I expected a return to (our version of) normal, but she remained very emotional and inflexible.

On Sunday, we decided to go to the African Craft Market. Pudding, a sensory seeker, generally loves all the sights, sounds, and smells of this place, but because it can get crowded, we always have to be prepared for sensory overload.

We brought along some fidgets, snacks, and her weighted vest, but by far our greatest defense from feeling overwhelmed is our double stroller (pushchair). We attract some looks with this thing. Though it is easy to manouvre, it is big. And Pudding: she is big too. We might attract attention having an (almost) five year-old in a stroller, one who looks at least two years older than that, even more so. Still, Pudding is happy there, and can pull down the hood when it all gets too much.

Before we entered the market, we stopped for a coffee, and the kids got out of the stroller to sit at the table. Cubby took the first chair, and Pudding had a meltdown. This behaviour is so uncharacteristic of her, that I couldn’t figure out the source of the problem. She was incoherent with rage, and my efforts at calming her were in vain. Spectrummy Daddy deduced that Cubby was in the wrong chair, and successfully persuaded Cubby to swap with his sister. Daddy gave her one of his big squeezes, and all was right again. With this problem solved, a sensible woman might have decided to quit right there, but I didn’t get where I am by being sensible. To the market we went!

Cubby, struggling to assert his independence, decided to walk while his big sister rode along. We found a gift for our friends’ new baby, and we needed to wait while we had it personalized. We wandered around the rest of the stalls, and Cubby began to tire. And by tire, I mean running in all directions and touching everything within reach in a manner eerily reminiscent of his big sister at that age.

I’d spotted a tablecloth I liked, and the trader began her negotiations. I figured it would be easier if I transferred Cubby to the stroller. You’d think by now I’d no longer be following my instincts, they hadn’t proven so useful that morning.

I persuaded him to ride in the stroller with the offer of a snack and a drink. A fine idea in theory, but somehow the cup tipped up, and the drink spilled out into Pudding’s seat. As the trader continued her hard sell, I was trying to dry the water from her seat, as Pudding’s father tried to prevent her from assaulting her sibling, who was now quite content in his side of the stroller, munching on a cracker.

Pudding screamed that her brother had to get out of the stroller, and we attracted more attention than any of the curios on display. I told the trader that we had to go right now, and would return another week for the tablecloth. But market people know that those who promise to return never do, and she wasn’t going to let a sale slip out of her hands. She lowered her price, Pudding continued to scream, I told her we had to go.

Finally she asked what I would pay, and I countered with a price over a 100 rands lower than her best offer. Pudding quieted. The lady agreed the sale. We quickly handed over the money, ready to leave.

Pudding remained calm. She got back in the stroller beside her brother, and we didn’t hear another sound from them until it was time to go. Naturally, they didn’t want to go home.

At bedtime, Pudding became sick, and after a very disturbed night, all four of us woke up with a cold. Just like the time before, my girl who is unable to use words to let us know when she feels ill had let her behaviour do the talking. It is so obvious in hindsight.

Though of course, there is the other possibility that our master negotiator was dismayed at how I was handling the transaction, and did her bit to help. When it comes to that kid, I’d say anything is possible!

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

November 7, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Idealist and Realist

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When Pudding was born, she was pure and perfect.  I was determined to keep her that way.  I would only nurse her, no chemical formula for my baby.  No pacifier, my baby wouldn’t have nipple confusion.  When she was ready, I fed her the organic, mostly locally-grown vegetarian diet that I ate, cooking all her meals from scratch.  She wore cloth diapers, and I used non-toxic cleaning products.  I’d encourage her to play with handmade wooden toys, and not allow her in the presence of TV or electronics.  I’d expose her to foreign languages and museums and art galleries.  She would always be perfect.

I was the Idealist Mother.  The Green Goddess of parenthood.  I never said it out loud, but I knew in return I’d have a perfect child.  I had no problem with other people doing those things with their children, but it wasn’t good enough for mine.  It was smug, it was judgmental, it is how I was.  Nothing could go wrong, if I did everything right.

But right didn’t seem to work.

The first thing I caved on was the pacifier.  There was no nipple confusion here, she knew exactly what they were, and needed them in her mouth the entire time.  Or she’d scream.  The entire time.  I was ashamed, but the pacifier stopped it.  She needed it, and I gave it to her.

I kept nursing her, but her appetite was insatiable, and it left me drained.  I finally got over myself, and tried formula, and the instant she put the bottle to her lips, she was allergic.  How could it be?  I’d done everything right!  Well, except for fixing her genetic predisposition.  My first taste of not having control.  I didn’t like it.

And then I was on a slope.

Once I started making food around her allergies, I lost my passion for cooking.  For a while I carried on making different meals for everybody, but then came the second pregnancy with complications.  When I began to crave chicken, I gave in and ate some for the first time in 10 years.  Then I discovered how easy it was to make one meal everyone could eat- there was no going back.  With more allergies, and a picky eater in Cubby, there are days I wish I could just get a break from the preparation and cooking and get fast food.  The old me would be horrified.

Though Pudding wore cloth diapers until she was potty trained, this Green Goddess failed with the second child.  When I observed that Pudding was more attracted to noisy cause-and-effect toys, we bought more and more of them.  Going to museums became difficult, a much rarer event.

And the languages.  I stopped trying to teach her French and Spanish.  She’d picked up a few phrases, and a couple of words in Luxembourgish and German, but she always using them in the exact same context.  Eventually I realized she was doing the same thing with English.  Our friends who allowed TV had kids who had better language skills than she did.  I eased up on that too.  When I saw how technology could help my child to learn, I embraced it.

Eventually this week I came to the decision to do something I vowed I’d never do- even after Pudding was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder- a medication trial for her ADHD and sleep disorder.  Putting something chemical into my pure, perfect baby would have been inconceivable to me a few years ago.  It is hard to let go of the idea that I’m failing her when I don’t match up to the ideals I’ve always held.  But those ideals just haven’t been able to deal with the reality of parenting.  Just like I require my kids to be more and more flexible, I’ve had to bend too.  And I’m certain that there’ll be more bending to come with time, as those ideals get left further behind, and my care becomes more pragmatic.

Perhaps not.

One thing that Realist and Idealist Mother have in common is that she wants the best for her kids.  She just finds different ways now.  Another thing?  My babies are still perfect in my eyes.  I’ll never change that much.  The Idealist in me keeps looking for ways to make this world a better place for my kids to live in, the Realist is helping them adapt instead.  I’m hoping that the two sides keep each other in balance, and show my kids that things are never black and white.  There is always another way to look at things.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

June 16, 2011 at 7:51 am

Good and Ready

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For once, Pudding’s communication folder didn’t come home with her from school.  Instead of looking at the day’s notes, I was going to have to rely on whatever information she chose to volunteer.

I took her to the bathroom, and found a small scrape covered with a princess band-aid (plaster).   I asked her what had happened, and I got the same echolaic response she has said for 18 months, “I fell down on the playground with Zoey*.”

I sat down with her to ask about her day.  Usually she graces me with a couple of answers, and I piece together the rest from her teacher’s notes.  No such luck today. She ignored my every question, until I gave up.  I worried.

It has recently been suggested to us by Pudding’s speech therapist that we might need to consider medication to help her reach her full potential.  Not that we haven’t considered it before, but the suggestion coming from somebody else is a confirmation of our fears.  And of course, it isn’t as easy as deciding to medicate, or not.  Do we treat the anxiety, the sleep disturbances, or the attention problems and hyperactivity?  Do we accept that treating one area might lead to more problems in another?  And of course, Pudding is so very young, who knows what damage might be done on medicine that hasn’t been approved for use in a child her age.  There are side effects, and there are dosing issues.  It can takes months, even years, to get the levels right.  Her behaviors are manageable to us at home, but can make her unteachable.  International schools don’t have to abide by the laws protecting her here.  Her attention problems might be enough to keep her out of mainstream education.  Not that I feel that mainstreaming is necessarily the right option for her.  As you can see, one question leads to another, and it becomes a lot more complex.  Ultimately, there is no right or wrong, parents just do their best making difficult decisions, and hope that the passing of time proves them right.  The adage about every child on the spectrum being unique is true, which just adds to the confusion.  We would have no way of knowing what the consequences would be until we went ahead and tried medication.  Then, as with all therapies, have no idea if progress was a result of the prescription, another therapy, or just natural brain development.

We’d weighed up the pros and cons, and decided we weren’t ready for medication for Pudding.  We would keep trying other ways.  But what if she keeps pulling away from us?  I couldn’t help but worrying about the wisdom of going against the advice of a respected professional, particularly one who has seen many children with Pudding’s diagnosis, and has nothing to gain from the suggestion.

After taking a bath, she asked me to put her to bed.   Every other night for a couple of weeks she has requested Daddy, so I was pleased to be summoned.  We read a story, then she asked to cuddle in bed.

She asked me: “What did you do at school today?”

I took the bait, and repeated the question back to her.   Then she proceeded to tell me, with more detail than she ever had before, about every activity she had done.  You (sic) ride on the bus.  You say hi to Ms. S, and {lists all the other pupils and aides}.  I do circle time and centers.  I do dinosaur puzzle.  You (sic) play with dolls and trains with Joey.*  I do gym, you (sic) fall down, and get a boo-boo.  I turned the computer on, I played music on the computer, I turned the computer off.  For lunchtime I ate chili, and crackers, and a berry juicebox, and apple sauce, and raisins.  You (sic) played a game. If I asked her a question about it, she’d consider, then respond appropriately.  We had a 10 minute conversation!  She was a different child from the aloof one I’d tried to quiz earlier.

Once again, the lesson that it will be her way, or no way.  You’d think I’d have got that by now!  I’m okay with giving her more time, we have plenty of it.  We’ll wait until she is good and ready, perhaps then we will be too.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

January 11, 2011 at 7:20 am