Friday, September 3, 2010

Recognizing Autism

Unlike most children with autism, GL did not develop symptoms before age three. He didn't have terrible twos. He was happy and precocious. Nothing bothered him. But shortly after his third birthday, something new began. He would occasionally, and for no apparent reason, turn into:

None of the usual methods of dealing with tantrums had the least effect. (They worked fine for BB.) At first, we could usually distract him, calm him, and then deal with whatever had set him off. But he became harder and harder to distract, his rages seemed to come out of nowhere, and it got harder and harder to discern what, if anything had set him off. In between times, he was his usual lovable self, but as these rages became more frequent, intense, and lengthy (45 minutes to an hour was not uncommon) it seemed like there was a tiger loose, and GL came out to play less and less often. When we finally got a diagnosis (shortly after his 7th birthday) we were able to get medication to help control these outbursts. It was like putting the tiger back in the cage, so GL could come out to play more often.

Since then, that's been a pretty good measure of how well his meds are working: Tiger time vs. GL time. The quality of the event hasn't changed; he's just gotten bigger, stronger, and more coordinated. He's five feet tall and 120 lbs. He pounds on walls, doors, and people. (We try to keep him away from windows.) We just came through a couple weeks of GL melting down twice a day, and even with medication these meltdowns were lasting over an hour. We got his meds adjusted this week, and things seem to be smoothing out. We'll see.

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Blogger Pastor D said...

I stumbled upon your blog while visiting Michelle Van Loon’s blog. I am a Lutheran pastor in rural northeast Indiana and have a young man in our parish that has been diagnosed with autism. I had the wonderful opportunity to bring him through instruction the past two years and he has just recently joined the adult choir. He enrolled last month as a freshman at our local high school.
Your challenges are unique. Raising a child with autism can be challenging and frustrating. It can also be a joy and blessing as you see your son grow and mature. As you already know your son has been given talents, abilities and gifts. The challenge is understanding how he sees the world and giving him avenues in which he can express himself.
Families with autism need prayer and support. Prayers ascend to our Heavenly Father for you and your family this day.

September 10, 2010 at 4:37 PM  
Blogger Mindy said...

I found your blog through the Homeschooling Bloggers Haven list. Your story sounds familiar. Our middle child wasn't diagnosed with anything until 3rd grade when he didn't want to go to school. He would have tantrums out from paralyzing fear and anxiety. He was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and put on anti-anxiety meds. After almost 2 years on them, I was still seeing something underlying that hadn't been addressed. We talked to our GP about it and she suggested that he could come off his meds after starting school this year, even though she thought what I was seeing was anxiety. ?!? That didn't sit well with me, so about a month ago we started going to a play therapist that our GP recommended. From day 1 she has been talking about Pervasive Developmental Disorder (on the Autism Spectrum). We have learned a lot this last month, but these last few days have showed me that we still have a lot to learn... We currently home school our oldest and have a goal of homeschooling all 3 kids, but right now my husband & I work full time. Oh for the day they're all home! :)

September 21, 2010 at 8:52 PM  

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