It's a blustery, wet evening tonight but there was a full auditorium at Zarfas Hall as we gathered for another information session. Tonight's speaker was Rob Nicolson on the topic of medications. He gave a complete tour of antipsychotics, alpha agonists, and some other available treatments. Although his slides were full of multi-syllable words that baffle the layman, his discussion was easy to understand.
The most interesting part of the evening was the question and answer periods. There is obviously a lot of concern about giving kids medication. Parents want to be sure they are giving the right medication in the right amounts and it's an emotional topic.
What I learned from Dr. Nicolson is that, unless they are causing a definite problem, there is no reason to treat tics with medication and this has caused me to question Luke's medications. Luke is on Concerta for the ADHD, at a relatively low dose, and Risperdal for the tics, also at a low dose. Luke himself will tell you that his Tourette's isn't too bad. I've decided to ask him if he would like to skip taking the medication for the tics on the weekend to see how he responds. At twelve, he is old enough to make the decision for himself.
Once again, I am struck by how all diagnoses flow into one another. When we first started dealing with the doctors, I thought it was an either/or situation. Then different doctors put different labels on my child and each one stuck. I guess I thought they were sharing the diagnosis. As I did more research I learned that these conditions, Tourette's Syndrome, ADHD, and Obsessive- Compulsive Disorder, are all related. But these Leaky Brake sessions are really bringing it home for me. I predict that one day the doctors will invent one label to describe all these disorders.
Two other important points were made at tonight's discussion, medicate one thing at a time and "pills don't teach skills". When a child comes in for treatment, Dr. Nicolson works on the most severe symptom first. He believes in treating one thing at a time so you can see if the treatment is working and if there are any side effects. This makes a lot of sense to me and is part of the reason I want to see how Luke does off the Risperdal, since he started it at the same time as the Concerta. Finally, as Dr. Dunc told us before, the medications don't teach behavior. They just help the real intentions of the child shine through and they also give an opportunity for the child to learn better behaviour.
Dr. Dunc gave Luke a couple dozen of these business cards to help him explain himself to strangers. They demonstrate that we can choose to see this glass as half-empty, or half full.