Musings from an Orthodox Jewish work at home mom of twins with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Archive for the ‘ADHD’ Category

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I’ve Done All But One. You?

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Pharmacy Hour

Some nights I just want to chuck the risperdal, vitamin D, multivitamins, probiotics, fish oil, geodon, adderall, colace, NAC, tenex (gotta crush that one of course), and last week benadryl (but no more albuterol because I was told maybe THAT caused more aggression) (Fred was sick- he’s fine now, but every time he gets a cold he gets R.A.D.) ………..out the window and just tell the kids to go to bed. There are families out there who don’t have pharmacy hour between exercise time and bedtime– amazing.

Med update:

risperdal—–  WAS working well for Fred.  Until now.  He’s now at the highest dosage and he’s been suspended from school 5 days out of the past 6 weeks.  Emergency IEP meeting—- I asked for a 1:1 aide.  Denied because “he has more good days than bad”.  I asked that they stop suspending him because you can’t suspend impulse control into a kid with autism.  Denied.  I asked for another FBA– got THAT rolling.

Vitamin D—- Wilma is low.  Duh, we’re in Ohio.  Why is Fred not low?

Geodon— working fairly well— she’s having a good year.  Today I was told at her anal manometry that they’ve not usually done manometries on kids on such strong anti-psychotics.  yeah, ok.

Adderall— working super well—- she always does homework nicely, and always sits through class well, needing just a few breaks per day.

Tenex— just added it for the finger picking and forehead picking…… she gets one pimple and spreads it into a little colony by picking and picking.  Fun times.  Tried tenex before and it did nothing, but that was years ago.

Spring 2014 update

It’s been a while….

Wilma is on 6 mg of abilify and 30 mg of adderall and doing AMAZINGLY both at home and at school. At school, there are virtually NO more episodes of flopping to the ground and screaming her head off. At home, there are entire days with NO episodes of ODD. The adhd has disappeared into adderall oblivion and homework is a breeze. Her major episodes are all ODD related and down to a few times a week rather than a few times a day. She does pick her fingers until they bleed on purpose and get blood all over herself on purpose (she even puts it on the doorposts right before Passover— irony!), but that’s SMALL potatoes compared to the days of rolling her in a stroller screaming out of the library, being kicked out of Chuckee Cheese, etc. I’m still terrified to take them most places by myself but that’s from remembering history more than today’s reality… I think. But I don’t want to put a mahooey on it. AND—- a majority of her poops land in the toilet due to great laxative timing, and a teeny bit of command of her nerve endings! She poops in her underwear but just a little bit— tells me immediately and then I can put her on the toilet and she does the rest– huge improvement! A couple of times I’ve even caught her fidgeting and told her to try to poop— CLEAN underpants and an ENTIRE bowel movement in the toilet!

I credit our county board rep for a lot of the improvement— she’s helping me chart behaviors and target particular times of day and particular triggers. Of the Center for Autism’s outreach program, the psychologist, the developmental pediatrician, and the county board rep, she’s probably the most helpful— it’s taken a long time to gather this dream team.

This month’s improvements: Chuckee Cheese got rid of some games and brought in some new ones. She didn’t flop on the ground, scream her head off, and throw her shoes at strangers. She simply…. made friends with a new game. Amazing. We had stopped buying soda for a while. We had some this week—- she wanted some after dinner tonight. I asked her to wait until she was finished with her chicken. NO plates went flying. No forks went flying. Seriously, it looked like a typical dinner with typical children. There are entire days with no behaviors worth writing down. There have been days with 83 to 120 minutes worth of severe behaviors. But lately—- 20 minutes over the course of a day is typical for us (on a weekday when they’re mostly at school anyway, but STILL!)

Fred is on 10 mg of abilify and OFF the zoloft and doing better at home. He’s doing better at home simply because WILMA is doing better at home. At home, I don’t give him a lot of expectations. He’s had a long day at school. As long as he does his homework and goes to his after school activities, I pretty much let him have at least a half hour of ipad or computer time a day and that keeps him fairly calm until Wilma starts up. At school, however, things have gotten significantly worse. It all started during the zoloft trial period, but it’s continued and through putting together the FBA and changing up his behavior plan at school and bringing in the county board rep to observe him at school, I’m starting to wonder whether to ask for a placement change (self contained class), a one on one aide, or a different (read– expensive autism based) placement. I LOVE this district and don’t want to come in with a lawyer and beg for what costs money….. they’re trying so hard and they love him so much. But he’s biting, kicking, and hitting. He’s spending a chunk of each day screaming. The county board rep arrives to observe him and hears his screams from outside the building. It’s heartbreaking. He’s calming down at home, but so overwhelmed at school. Academically he’s fine. Socially and emotionally, he’s having such a much rougher year than last year.

Today, he fell at school first thing in the morning and bled all over his pants. They called me to come take a peek and two teachers and I all agreed that maybe he might need one stitch. So I took him to the hospital. Two episodes of Sesame Street, a green popsicle, and 3 hours later, he’s got 4 stitches. Took him back to school for the last hour of the day, came home and finally ate my breakfast at 3:00 pm after filling his pain med and antibiotic ointment scrips. Fun times.

PS— Wilma’s medicaid waiver was approved on January 29th. It’s now April 1st and we still haven’t been approved to begin services (we want ABA!). Meanwhile her behaviors have improved somewhat—- maybe if they make us wait long enough, she’ll behave appropriately 100% of the time. hah.

First Grade Fun

It’s time for the first grade update.

Home is still hard. REALLY REALLY hard. She ticks him off on purpose by flopping on the ground and refusing to do what I ask (including using the toilet—- yeah I’m such a mean mom asking her to go potty). He screams and goes into multi-bite mode. I send him to the playroom to calm down. He screams from there. She still refuses to comply. And on and on. It used to be about toileting AND dinner AND getting on the phone with the grandparents AND homework but now homework is off the list. For whatever reason, homework is going well for Wilma this year. There is a LOT more homework in first grade (at least a half hour every day) but Wilma is calmy complying with homework time. Woo friggin HOO! Fred is having a REALLY rough time with the repetition of homework and the forced writing (he hates being told to write), and anxiety attacks over coming up with a sentence about a book he read, etc. But at least for Wilma, homework is okay.

Fitting homework in is hard. Lots of after school therapy and appointments, dinner, and I can’t seem to get a handle on helping them both at the same time so I usually help Wilma first and THEN help Fred while Wilma plays on the computer or ipad. On a non appointment/therapy day, this works but on other days I HAVE to help them together and it’s hard.

But school? School is going BEAUTIFULLY this year. We have Wilma’s increased adderall dosage to thank for her success. She is now on 5mg abilify and 30 mg adderall. We have finally found the adderall sweet spot for her and her adhd is under control. WHEW. Her oppositional defiance disorder and autism are definitely NOT under control. And don’t even ask about the encopresis. But the adhd? SO much better. And Fred? Well aside from biting the teacher and doing a lot of screaming and crying, he’s academically doing just fine. Socially? eh. Anxiety wise? eh. But he loves school and they’re working well with him and the other kids are accepting of him. Aside from a lack of ABA, I LOVE both of their schools. I really do. Oh, and aside from a lack of Judaism. At this point I’m getting less hopeful that they’ll someday be in Jewish day schools and more accepting that perhaps our place is in public school.

Monday, the friendship circle girls come after school— that will start this week. Wednesday, they’ll go to an activity club run by the Bikkur Cholim house— that will also start this week. Thursday is speech therapy. So our only non appointment/therapy day will be Tuesdays, but I met with a new therapist today who might be able to work with them on Tuesdays so we’ll see. Meanwhile whenever the SELF waiver comes through and we have ABA funding our entire schedule will have to change in a big way.

First grade is fun. Writing sentences, learning addition and subtraction (well for Wilma anyway. Fred is doing fractions, decimals, and percentages with his teacher— thankfully they’re willing to do that for him because his high anxiety moments include being asked to do math at the level where he’s supposed to be– keep his mind moving, and you keep his anxiety at bay– they’ve learned that.)

Wilma is on abilify and adderall. Fred is cutting down on the abilify and going up on the zoloft (did I mention we took him off focalin and put him on zoloft?)—– doc wants to get him off abilify all together with a huge dose of zoloft— good luck, doc. we’ll see.

Toilet training/ megacolon/ encopresis update to come over the weekend or next week—- I’m just…. BUSY!

POOP Part two.

Once upon a time, Wilma had never pooped in a toilet.  She had one poop a day in her pullup— usually at nighttime after I put her to bed in her nighttime pullup.  Life was calm.  As calm as life could be with two autistic five year olds.

Wilma turned six and her school nurse suggested I take her to a GI doc to rule out physical problems.  Was her encopresis PHYSICAL?  EMOTIONAL?  IMMATURITY?  Who knew?  So I figured the GI doc would find nothing wrong and life would go back to the usual.  She just wasn’t ready to toilet train.  okidokee.

GI doc did an xray.  Despite Wilma pooping at least once a day (nice normal sized ones), she was backed up to her eyeballs.  I agreed to a cleanout.  She pooped like CRAZYYYYYYYYYYYY for a weekend but then on the maintenance meds she was at three to four poops a day.  ok, that was do-able.  Until it was five to six poops a day.  Then up to ten poops a day.  On the maintenance dosages.

So we went back to the GI doc Friday.  He wanted us to do cleanouts EVERY weekend for the next three months.  He wants to re-train the neurofibers in her anus or some ridiculous sounding bunk like that.  He did not suggest a rectal biopsy to rule out Hirschsprungs or a scope.  He simply wants to INCREASE the meds.  I was in shock, but agreed.  Oh Lordy Lordy.  Friday night I gave her his recommended dosages.  Saturday she pooped 14 times.  That’s 14 pullups, people, at 70 cents per pullup.  Today, Sunday, she pooped another 14 times.  Might have been 15.  I lost count.  Her body cannot be enjoying this.  I am going CRAZY.  He’s got to give me money for all these pullups, some respite care, and dammit, I want HIM to change her for a day and see if he still thinks this is the route to take!

He increased the maintenance meds too.  hah.  After 30 poops in 48 hours, my husband and I agreed– NO MEDS TONIGHT.  As it is, even with no meds tonight we have no chance in heck of her being able to leave the house tomorrow– trust us– there will be another 8-12 tomorrow!  It’s president’s day so no school, but we’ll just sit at home playing games, coloring, reading, and changing pullups.

I’ll call the doc— NO WAY am I putting her through this anymore.  He needs to jump straight to a rectal biopsy or a scope, OR I need to stop going down this road and forget about toilet training her for another year or two.

It’s heartbreaking to have a fully verbal, cognitively aware, “HIGH FUNCTIONING” six year old NEVER defecate in a toilet, but I think it’s even more heartbreaking to allow poop to rule our lives in the name of “maybe this will teach her anal neurofibers”.

Hirschsprungs?  EE?  If this is a physical problem, what’s your diagnosis, fellow moms?  At this point it’s pretty obviously a physical problem.  Despite her severe adhd and her autism, she can speak paragraphs about where poop is supposed to go and she IS able to put her urine there.  She cheers her brother on through his poops and flushes for him.  She watches me poop.  She totally gets it.  I don’t think she’s cognitively perfect, but THIS—- SHE GETS IT.  But her body doesn’t.  I can’t believe it’s just her hypotonia either.  I don’t know anyone with hypotonia like THIS.

SO SICK of wiping her butt.

And for all of you wondering—- if she’s so high functioning, why not just put her in a Jewish day school with a one on one aide—— here’s your answer.  How many day schools are obligated to change a six year old?  Public school HAS to take her.

Mainstream versus special ed versus one on one aide… ack

Yesterday was the FBA follow up meeting at Wilma’s school. Long story short, I have a child who really cannot handle large group lessons and does well one on one with an adult or in very structured quick change settings (6 minute stations). She just can’t be “mainstreamed” even with an aide. But then again she doesn’t fit into the mold of a kid who does well in a small group special ed class either if the other kids aren’t verbal or social. Behaviors we discussed included flipping lights on and off during lessons, slamming doors, yelling, flopping on the floor and tantrumming…….so yesterday I was now going to discuss with the district the possibility of putting a one on one aide on her NOT to be assigned to her to the mainstream classroom, but to be assigned to HER so if some days she can be in the mainstream classroom for 50% of the day, great, and if other days it’s 80%, great, but she always has the exact same adult super glued to her. As it stands, they have to change her schedule around in terms of adult coverage on her constantly because one aide got put in a diff school and one aide is in charge of K, 1, and 2 kids and the OT has been spending extra time with her, etc.

So.  Today as I was composing the email to the district special ed director, school called.

They asked me to pick her up!  “She’s having a problem”. mmmmm hmmmmmmm. The irony? I was in the middle of beginning to compose an email to the district’s head of special ed requesting a meeting concerning the results of the FBA—- I wanted a one on one aide on her at all times. Well jeepers, this helps my case, don’t it? Along with being asked to attend field trips with her.  So without SO much fanfare, I wheeled in the mega stroller (we have a special needs Maclaren Major for Wilma’s meltdowns), used my superhuman strength to pop her in, had someone else carrying her coat and backpack while I had one hand rolling the stroller and the other hand holding the straps together so she couldn’t adjust them and wiggle out (she tried twice).  It’s just FUN to be the mom rolling the special needs kindergartener down the hallway screaming as all the fourth graders pass by raising their eyebrows, but I digress.

I got her in the car– my biceps are getting bigger.  I got her in the house— go me, I’m supermommy!  I threw away her second dirty pair of underpants of the day (when she’s mid-meltdown they let her sit in her own poop— it’s hard to blame them), wiped her, threw a pull up and jammies on her, engaged the child lock on her door and hoped she’d scream herself into a nap— she was exhausted from the mega tantrum.  No such luck.  So she was upstairs in her room screaming…..

When I got the call.

Her Intervention Specialist.  I had JUST seen her during Wilma’s meltdown, AND I had seen her yesterday at the FBA meeting.  After I took her home, AFTER the FBA meeting and AFTER the mega meltdown which was going to help my case for a one on one aide, she had a discussion with the director of special ed.

Sit down y’all.  REGARDLESS of what’s going on with my daughter, they were planning anyway over the last couple of weeks to begin a small special ed group specifically for behaviorally challenging K-1’s AT her current school.  She’s eligible.  They plan, next month, in March to have four kids from other schools in the district come to this class.  Wilma would be the only kiddo from her current school in this class— the only kid for this class who wouldn’t need to switch schools.  The other kids are all verbal and social, so my worries about having her in a typical MH unit are moot.  She’ll have peers who are like her.  It’s a BEHAVIOR specific class for kids who are too disruptive to be mainstreamed.  One teacher and one aide on five children.  HOOOOOOORAY!  Academically, they’ll work with each kid where they are.  Plenty of specialized attention.  Specials (art, music, gym, etc) that have been so incredibly difficult for Wilma because of the large group activities—— she’ll do with this small group.  Lunch—- small group.  YES!

And that’s not all folks!

The FBA results showed that Wilma is consistently FINE until about 11:00 am.  She falls apart from 11:00 to 3:15.  From 8:45 until 11:00 am her meds are working, she’s fresh and calm, and cooperative.  Because Wilma already HAS a mainstream class at this school, she’ll be the kid in her new class who WILL be mainstreamed—- for PART of the day.  She’ll stay in her current mainstream classroom until 11:00 and then join the new group for the rest of the day.  Both teachers will coordinate what she learns with whom and how.  Her new teacher is well versed in working with behaviorally challenging kiddos.  Additionally, I’m in discussions with the new developmental pediatrician about giving her a second dose of vyvanse around 11:00 am.  It’s working WELL now– until about 11:00.  The first few weeks of Vyvanse we thought it was working well overall, but not anymore— we now see the pattern.  MORNINGS are good.

Well, she’s not going to need a one on one aide!

We’ll muddle through the next few weeks until this class begins and then things should get a lot better with much more consistent coverage for Wilma in the afternoons and a group of kids like her who all need the same type of attention.

Don’t tell Wilma, those of you who know us in real life—- I’ll only tell her when it’s official.

From year to year, month to month and frankly, moment to moment, it’s hard to know whether Wilma is a mainstreamable kid, or a special needs classroom kid.  And that’s okay as long as the school keeps bending over backwards to meet her where she is.

Medication update

Fred is on 15 mg of abilify.  Without Wilma around, he’s doing ok.  If he were an only child we’d be satisfied.  He still shows lots of signs of autism and plenty of anxiety, but his anxiety is manageable— he freaks out, bites, screams, and it’s over.  His episodes are frequent, but short lived.  Unfortunately he comes home with the daily bite reports and his teacher and IS/ISA still aren’t yet interested in pursuing an FBA and I don’t yet have the balls to demand it.

When he’s with Wilma, all hell breaks loose.
Wilma is now on 1 mg of abilify and 5 mg of focalin.  Today is day 2 of focalin and I don’t know if the focalin is making her SO MUCH WORSE or if she’s just had two realllllllly bad days.  She kicked my husband so hard tonight that we considered the ER.  With ice, he’s limping and no longer yelping in pain, so nothing’s broken.  Focalin is supposed to make her focus, pay attention, help with impulse control…… yeah.  right.

 

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