Friday, June 7, 2013

Autism, Epilepsy & Mood Stabilization Medications - Connections We Need To Know

If behavioral medications for autism were listed as a category in the dictionary the definition would be "The good, the bad and the ugly!!!!". Why, you ask? Well for starters there is the upside, the good...individuals like the superstar of insight into living with autism, Dr. Temple Grandin. Temple attributes her use of anti anxiety drugs to her ability to function, and insists they provided the bridge from extreme anxiety making everyday life impossible to her being calm able to function and do the things she wanted to do. Quite a testimony!  

Then there's the bad. Will my child have a good outcome, or was Temple just a great respondent?  The ugly; what would make it worth the risk for me to try such serious drugs on my child? And for every parent or professional who suggested we try anti anxiety drugs - also known as mood stabilization medication - five others have told me how horrible it will be.  These medications can do the precise opposite of what they were prescribed to do and if that's not enough it seems Nick could become a zombie, gain weight, drool uncontrollably and develop ticks, and this is the short list of the most common side effects!  How do you voluntarily sign up for that!!!!! 

Maybe now it's a little easier to understand why for the past 10 years, I've felt so "right" for my conviction "No behavior and mood disorder drugs for Nick". I choose ABA and other therapy's over drugs, determined to stick with my goal, no behavioral modification med's for Nicky. Imagine my surprise when I learned, I had not been doing any such thing! I had been giving Nicky behavior modification drugs since he was 3, and the effects had been in play for years without me even knowing it!!

When Nick was 3 he began taking Depakote for his abnormal EEG.  Over time as his epilepsy worsened  his dose was increased. The doctors told me that getting the dose right was important and his behaviors could be affected by the drug - his mood could change if he had too much or not enough of the medication in his system - but I still only thought of the drug in terms of his epilepsy.  

Then we began to ween Nicky of the Depakote and I learned the hard way that Depakote (aka Valporic Acid  and Depakene) was A TOTAL MOOD STABILIZER!!!! Once the Depakene was out of his body Nick spiraled to a new land filled will manic and aggressive behaviors, the degree to which I had never seen before.  Not only was it clear to me that he was miserable, the aggression scared me he could hurt himself or someone else. And people are afraid of a 5'6" young man who tantrums, hums, jumps, hits himself, takes aggressive stances, makes noises and reaches into a baby stroller to grab an appealing toy - or pull a pacifier out of the baby's mouth. 

So here I am, faced with the reality that Nicky does in fact greatly benefit from a mood stabilizing medication.  Funny how often I think I'm going down one road, just to find myself on another.


  1. Hi Mama,
    I too said no drugs. Used all natural gaba, and other amino acids. My Nick's meltdowns became extremely worse to self injury and injurious to others including myself. I have just begun him on lorzepam for anxiety. 2 milligrams a day given as needed. It is helping. My Nick is 18. You may want to talk to a natural path or homeopathic doctor to use natural amino acids to calm and sleep. Or try the lorzepam. I have seen no ugly side effects. Keep your faith and your head up--its going to be okay.

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