Medication Indecision: How Do You Decide What’s Best?

Leaves both brown and green

As if they cannot decide

Fitting for these times

 

How do you decide what’s best when it comes to medication? The medication indecision feels so daunting to me!

Medication Indecision: How Do You Decide What's Best? Haiku about Indecision http://www.embracingthespectrum.com/medication-indecision-how-do-you-decide-whats-best

As we continue to work out things with Squeaker’s medication, life goes on in almost complete indecision about what’s best for him. We did take off one medication, and determined that we just didn’t need that medication. We have a medication check on Monday and we will go from there. I think that when we started this whole medication game back when he began exhibiting symptoms early on, he got diagnosed too soon. His initial diagnosis? ADHD. That diagnosis never got removed after he got diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. For the past two years I have learned towards believing that the label of ADHD does not fit. He also has a diagnosis of Sensory Modulation Disorder, and many of the symptoms that one might attribute to ADHD also match those of Sensory Modulation Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder. If you couldn’t guess already, we took away the stimulant medication. His behavior this weekend did not worsen or change, but he did get less zombie-like and sleep better and on Sunday, his Sunday-school teacher said he behaved better than he ever had.

At school, the first two days didn’t go as well, but we stuck with it and on day three, he had the best day he’s had in a while. His evenings still don’t go well, which I’m not sure how to fix, but even the evenings don’t seem to be quite as violent as before. Maybe the stimulant medication had a role to play in the violent outbursts. I don’t think we’re through getting rid of medications. I want to detoxify his body and narrow it down to one or two medications. I’m still not opposed to the idea of just taking him off all of them at once and starting over if it comes to that, but that would require him going to a hospital and we’d have to leave this area to do that because the hospitals around here would pump him full of medications, defeating the purpose of what we’d want to accomplish. The only reason we haven’t gone that route is that he has done so well at school that we’d hate to disrupt that process for him right now.

I hate the slow weaning process that we are going through right now because it leads to indecision. When the doctor asks which medication I feel helps him or which one doesn’t work, how do I answer that? I cannot isolate a variable because I have no controlled situation here.  All the medications get mixed together, so I cannot determine which medication does what. I will say that I enjoy the break-through of his personality more without the stimulant medication in his system. I’m just looking forward to the day when I can remember what pills he takes and what doses he’s on because he doesn’t take so many. Right now, I cannot keep track anymore without writing them down and I don’t like it one bit.

I will say that he does at least get his homework done and he does accomplish his work at school. We’re making progress, even with some obstacles, and if I look back at last year, we’ve gone a long way!

 

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Teaching Social Skills with Video Modeling

Teaching Social Skills with Video Modeling Behaviors with Friends app

teaching social skills with video modeling behaviors with friendsTeaching Squeaker how to adapt to the world around him can sometimes challenge us as parents. It’s hard when you don’t have the right words to explain the intricacies of social interactions. Life gets experienced by the second. But, many of life’s rules exist in commonalities and we can attempt to help him navigate around them. Research suggests that one of the best ways to help a child with Autism learn about social situations is to use video modeling. When I got the opportunity to review Behaviors with Friends I jumped on the opportunity right away because I knew from my own training as a special education teacher that teaching social skills with video modeling would benefit him. Behaviors with Friends uses targeted video modeling to help teach your child how to behave appropriately, solve problems, make good decisions, and properly communicate with their friends and other peers in common social scenarios and settings.

Lessons focus on common behavior problems for children, such as:

  • strategies to resolve conflicts with peers without resorting to tantrums, name calling or physical violence;
  • self-management and dealing with anger and frustration in a positive fashion;
  • sharing and taking turns with friends;
  • being a good sport;
  • telling the truth;
  • bullying;
  • not interrupting;
  • being nice to friends and not taunting, and encouraging friends who are less competent instead of teasing; and
  • appropriate body boundaries.

The lessons in bold font are the ones I was particularly excited about my son learning. He has watched those videos again and again, and each time he gets something different from them. I think one of my favorite things about the videos is that it has a part where the child must identify how the child making positive (or potentially negative) choices in the video might be feeling and then how the other person in the video might feel.

My son has the most difficulty identifying the exact emotion a person feels and the repercussions of those emotions. These parts of the videos, I feel, hold the most value for him. What’s the difference between angry and frightened? Between sad and angry? Both emotions are negative. He still has trouble pinpointing which emotion is which, and this will help him with that.

 

 

Teaching Social Skills with Video Modeling: Behaviors with Friends app

 

I found that my son actually enjoyed playing this app. The whimsical little creatures made it fun for him. Peppered throughout the videos, you’ll see talking spiders, ladybugs, caterpillars, and other little insects with what sounds like British voices.

 

 

The role-playing scenarios stop at clear points, then ask probing questions on “Normal” mode. You do have the option to put it on Easy mode, though. On Easy mode, these questions do not come up. Your child will simply be asked if they want to watch the good choice.

I chose the Normal mode for Squeaker. He always gave me high fives when he got the questions right and got encouraging words like “Super” or “Excellent.” He also got stickers in his sticker book, which is contained within the app, when he got questions right and again at the end of the lesson for finishing the lesson, which excited him as well. Whenever the iPad comes out, he always enjoys getting a chance to play the game, so it definitely gets his endorsement!

Teaching Social Skills Using Video Modeling

From the Sticker Book

 

Another feature of the app is that there is a Parent section, titled Info for Adults, where you can find useful tips for handling behaviors. In this section, you’ll find a video with several tips on handling problem behaviors with video models. The video is about 11 minutes long; so the length of about half a 30-minute television show. Founder Sarah Clifford Scheflen, M.S., CCC-SLP states that “Behavior issues are a common complaint from parents. Parents need strategies to help teach their children how to behave. Behavior with Friends not only teaches children how to behave appropriately, but also provides tips to parents on how to implement their own behavior modifications.” Jenny McCarthy is included in the parent tips video, so if you’re a Jenny McCarthy fan, you’ll really enjoy that! From founder Jenny McCarthy: “ All parents want their kids to have friends. Traveling around the world, I met so many parents who said, ‘I don’t know how to deal with my child’s behavior problems!’ So we made these videos to help teach children and their parents how to resolve common behavior problems with friends.” You’ll find another video with information about video modeling and other products by teach2talk after that.

With parent tips, video-modeling of social skills, and the fun-factor for kids, this app has a lot to offer. You got a sneak preview of this awesome educational app. If you’d like to be the first to know when it’s been released, CLICK HERE

Here is some information about the Co-Founders of Teach2Talk:

Sarah Clifford Scheflen:

Sarah Clifford Scheflen, M.S., CCC-SLP is a pediatric clinical speech–language pathologist who specializes in working with children with autism and other developmental disorders. Sarah is the founder of Scheflen Speech–Language Pathology, Inc., her private practice in Santa Monica, California, and she is also the senior speech–language pathologist on staff at an intensive partial–hospitalization program located at a major public research university in Los Angeles, California. She is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer, and her research focus is on teaching play and social skills through video modeling. http://sslpinc.com/

Jenny McCarthy:

Jenny McCarthy is a The New York Times® best–selling author, actress, producer and comedian. More importantly, she is “mom” to her son Evan, who received a diagnosis of autism with associated language, social, and play delays in 2005. As a mom, Jenny understands every mother’s desire to help their children achieve their full potential, and was frustrated by how difficult it was as a parent to find quality educational products which she could use by herself to help her child in her own home. She resolved to use her experience and connections in the motion picture and publishing industries to produce quality educational products for moms everywhere, and in collaboration with Sarah, teach2talk™ is the result. http://twitter.com/JennyMcCarthy

For more information about Teach2Talk or the Behavior with Friends app, you visit any one of these links:

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for teach2talk but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

What’s in a Name? Words that Have Meaning to Me

“Did you know that my name means ‘harvester’?” I asked my husband.

“Harbinger?” he replied. “Did you say harbinger? Sounds right.”

He thinks he’s so funny…

What’s in a name, anyway? I’ve always closely associated my name with  Mother Teresa, a person I deeply admire. A giving, loving soul, she spent her entire life in service to others. She founded several charities, worked among the poor, and served God faithfully until the day she died. She is quoted as saying “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving” – words that have meaning to me.

What's In a Name? Words that have meaning to me.

I find myself living by these words on a day-to-day basis. When I see a person in need, I reach out. That’s part of the reason I teach–to make the largest impact I can on the world. I want to reach young people and help them.

The other day, I got a Facebook message from a student I taught my 2nd year teaching. She sent me her graduation picture and told me that she always wanted me to see her in her graduation robe. I had since moved away, so we’re fortunate that social media opens up that link for us. She told me I was one of her favorite math teachers. As the person who taught her when she was just in the 7th grade, I feel honored that it meant that much to her. I poured my heart and soul into those children, talked to them when they needed a shoulder, and did all of it in hopes that one day they’d make it. She did. She went from my resource class in middle school to going for her Bachelor’s degree in Business Management in college. Another of my early students joined the Navy and another joined the Air Force. All of them wanted me to know what they had done since leaving me and I am so proud.

“One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.” ~Mother Teresa

In my room, my students know I care for them. They feel loved, even if they don’t feel love anywhere else. Sometimes it’s tough love, but they know that means I will never give up on them. I will stop at nothing to see them succeed. So maybe my name does also mean “harvester.” But I’m not gathering a crop of plants. The seed I’ve planted does not belong to any tangible fruit or vegetable. I plant several seeds and sometimes those seeds don’t get harvested for years. I plant seeds of hope, love, knowledge, trust, and support. The harvest comes when I see those seeds develop engaged learners who reach for more than just a passing grade and aspire to do more than graduate.

My hope? That I never lose that driving force inside of me that pushes me to do just a little bit more. I just care that much.

“The person who gives with a smile is the best giver because God loves a cheerful giver.” ~Mother Teresa

If you want to help out a classroom in need, please visit this DonorsChoose.org link. If you use the code SPARK to donate, they will match your donation dollar-for-dollar up until November 18th.

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Faith Along the Way

The Power of Human Touch

Ever since my last desperate post about my son’s behavior, I’ve sought out ways to help him on my own. The fact that his behavior at school did not match his behavior at home felt like a huge hint to me. He needs something from  me. His stress level by the time he gets home must reach epic proportions. What can we do? What do we do now? Does our reaction help?

The answers?

  1. We can do lots of things. I’ll get to that in a minute.
  2. We had been just sending him to his room and fussing at him for his behavior. After hours of repeated behavior, either my husband’s voice or mine would get louder, making the behavior worse.
  3. Did our reaction help? Obviously, it did not. Behaviors continue to worsen as our reactions to his behavior get more negative. We went the punitive route, and he should face consequences for hitting and destructive behaviors, but we should also find ways to prevent that from happening.

The power of human touch releases miraculous chemicals that soothe the soul. Read about it on www.embracingthespectrum.com What does my son really need? A hug. Studies have shown that human touch increases the chemical called oxytocin in your blood stream, then the heart rate goes down, and it tends to calm you. I’ve found that, lately, when Squeaker gets upset, 90% of the time, I can just ask him if he needs a big hug. He will agree. Once I get him over for the hug, he will let me start rubbing his back, and he calms right down. He gets from the stage where he’s about to hit or kick someone to where he’s calm enough to almost fall asleep in about 30 seconds. That’s the power of human touch!

The other thing we did was buy him a trampoline for his birthday (a mini trampoline). He gets out a lot of that excess energy that he’s got built up without destroying anything in the process, he gets tired enough at the end of the night that he sleeps well, and we all win.

Next, I’ve got a sand table on the way that we bought with the birthday money his uncle and aunt sent him. That will also help with some of his sensory issues and get him occupied with someone else during some of the harder times. I have a goal to get the house more sensory-friendly and give him an outlet for when these rough days occur so that he knows what he can do when he’s not feeling well.

In short: I think I’m starting to figure things out again. I just lost myself in a moment of exhaustion and desperation. You know…mom stuff. We’ll survive this obstacle like all the others now that I’ve figured out the power of human touch. We’ll just hug it out.

Missing my sweet boy

The report from school contains all smiles.

At home, we still see the following: growling, kicking, hitting, and aggression.

We wonder when to expect this new medicine to work the way the doc says it will.

I don’t like the medication at all, though, because he seems worse to me, even if the school sees a better him.

I wonder where my sweet boy went.

Why do I get the boy the growls and kicks and hits and bites?

Yes, we get hugs and kisses, too, but we also get the uptick in behaviors no matter how many times we put him in his room.

We explain to him that he is allowed to feel sad/angry/frustrated, but not allowed to hurt others.

He cries.

Sometimes I want to reverse all the things we did and stop all the medication, but I know it would hit his system too hard.

What if we took it all away and started fresh, though?

I don’t know, but I do know that more than anything, I miss him.

 

My Sweet Boy a few days ago at his 8th birthday party.  A mostly good day!

My Sweet Boy a few days ago at his 8th birthday party. A mostly good day!

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Faith Along the Way

 

 

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