• anxiety,  autism,  COVID life,  medication,  mental health


    Take the syringe, watch the calibration carefully as you pull the clear, bitter liquid out from the bottle. That bitterness is why you need lemonade. Orange juice works too. The acidity will offset the bitterness. Wipe the bottle clean before you place it back in the cupboard. Any medication that spills along the sides will be sticky. J is 5 when we start this regiment, hoping that the sertraline prescription will do enough to keep his anxiety and OCD-like symptoms manageable. We were nervous to start. Anti-anxiety medication for a five year old? But the anxiety is debelitating for him. We feel like we don’t have any other choice. “Don’t…

  • anxiety,  autism,  high school,  medication,  post high school,  post secondary autism


    This week involved parent teacher conferences, a conference call with a guardianship lawyer, and driving to school to help J through an evacuation drill. I’ve thought a lot this week about how grateful I am for teachers who are flexible with their classrooms and curriculum to allow J to participate in the ways he can with his peers. I’ve thought about “the end of all public school things” and “adulthood” and what J’s future will look like and how much participation on our end will be needed as parents. I’ve thought a lot about J’s anxiety and how he just can’t seem to make it to the pre-determined time before…

  • autism,  high school,  medication,  motherhood

    January Was a Tough Year, But We Made It

    I picked up J from school Friday morning and he looked exactly like the school nurse described on the phone–“ashen.” School overhead fluorescent lights aren’t flattering on anyone, but the lights weren’t the problem. J looked like a zombie. Eyes vacant. Lethargic. Just all around awful. J’s doctor had warned us that some kids have this type of reaction to clonidine and that J might too. But J never had this reaction the first time he started the medication back in December and I wasn’t sure he had fully recovered from the flu–since he still hadn’t fully gotten over his cough and raspy voice (W and I have been symptom…

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  • anxiety,  autism,  medication,  mental health

    The Uneaten Bowl of Spaghettios

    Or “Never a Controlled Experiment” Part 2 We’ve been struggling for months now–probably since the beginning of the school year–trying to decide if J’s current medications are effective and helping him to be the best version of himself. We’re starting to think that they’re not. It was a question J’s Dr asked us back around October. It was our first visit with her (J’s old psychiatrist retired just recently–we loved her!) and as she was familiarizing herself with J’s file she asked us, “do you think J’s anti-anxiety medication is still helping his anxiety.” The question totally took my off guard. Every discussion we’ve had for years is, “how is…

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  • anxiety,  autism,  medication

    The J and Rudy Connection

    I don’t know what it is about our family, but when it comes to kids and dogs, the dogs we choose end up a lot like the kids in our house. Actually just one kid in our house. This week I found myself yelling from the top of the stairs, “You need to stop obsessing!” and no, this time it wasn’t at J, but to the dog, and when J heard it, his face lit up immediately. “Hey,” J said, with a big grin on his face. “Like me!–We’re twins!” Rudy, like Fred before him, and like his human brother now, suffers from anxiety. I knew it from the moment…

  • autism,  high school,  medication,  middle school,  teen years

    Let’s talk autism and puberty

    This is me in grade 9. In the throws of puberty I didn’t know how awkward I really was and so that probably explains why I was somehow still confident enough to like myself (most of the time). I had no fashion sense. I had glasses, although I only wore them when I absolutely had to because those things definitely made me feel ugly. I didn’t wear makeup. In fact it was the end of grade 10 when my mom suggested to me that I might enjoy a makeover at Merle Norman. Puberty has got to be the most awful, emotionally and physically, confusing time in which everyone on the…

  • autism,  cross-country,  exercise,  medication

    The fragile and complex autism ecosystem

    Even when life is predictable and the autism variables are in homeostasis, I’m always looking at ways to make sure the very fragile and complex autism ecosystem is running in optimal form. Because J has been managing his obsessional behavior much better, because XC requires us to be more disciplined in his school and academic responsibilities, because J’s spontaneous expressive language is getting better and better, it’s been easier to see what deficits need a little more work or attention. Because J has been so cooperative with math, French, and other subjects that require daily after school study, I’ve been able to see that a lot of J’s struggles currently lie in his…

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  • autism,  medication

    The Well Child

    At the two year well child visit, J threw an epic tantrum in the examination room. I was alternating rocking W’s car seat with my foot while trying to wrangle J at the same time. Our Illinois pediatrician slipped out of the examination room and returned quietly with a photocopied piece of paper that looked like it was taken from 10-year-old medical textbook. “It’s some information about tantrums,” she said with a tentative smile. “Read through it. It’ll give you some tips.” I did a quick scan in the parking lot when I had the kids immobilized and secure in their car seats, both of them screaming at the top…

  • exercise,  medication

    That Physical Piece

    Growing up, I remember an old man with a toque and big boxing glove mittens, jogging down the sidewalk along Riverbend Road in the dead of winter. Shirtless. Each year I’d watch him as we drove by in our warm car just shocked–and amazed, thinking that this had to be the year he caught pneumonia and died. My parents would just shake their heads in unbelief as they watched him too. But even though we thought he was crazy, we really, really admired him. We didn’t really know why he did what he did every winter, but we knew he must have some sort of iron will–some incredible motivation to do it. I…

  • family,  medication,  mental health

    Never a Controlled Experiment

    I feel like maybe I should write this post in installments—in fact, maybe over the next few weeks I’ll go into a little more about our experiences and thoughts on autism and medication. It’s obviously not an experience, story, or discussion that can be summed up in 1,000 words or less. It’s also a very emotionally charged one—some people feel really strongly for or against medication. At this point in J’s life we feel that medication for his anxiety and ADHD symptoms are necessary. That might change. After all, he’s constantly changing. In fact, we saw Dr. R. a week and a half ago and after the nurse took J’s…

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