Leelo: Somebody Medicate That Boy!

Yesterday was another evaluation day for Leelo. This time the Deadwood School District Head of Special Ed and her psychologist came to observe Leelo at Iron Gate. After about an hour of watching him, and once some pleasantries had passed between the three of us, I mentioned that we had had a psychopharmacology consult at YouCSF.

"I didn't want to bring up that subject myself," said The Head, "But it seems to me that he isn't able to sit still long enough to learn. That he really wants to, that he's bright and capable, but that he honestly just can't focus for more than a moment at a time."

"Yes, I know," I said. "Supervisor M and I think that our boy is most likely dual diagnosis autism/ADHD."

"That's a rough one," said the psychologist. "It's hard to tease out the symptoms, and figure out which condition is causing them."

"Still..." mused The Head, "It would be great to find a way to help him calm down, so he could follow along in class. Right now he really can't sit still, and that's a barrier to participation."

"I understand," I said. "We are open to a careful and methodical exploration of the topic."

"That's good. I'm glad to hear that," said The Head.

"Barrier to participation" is an ominous phrase, don't you think?

Similar concerns were voiced by the head of ALSO preschool, the place he'll start at next week. And by Supervisor M (again) during our team meeting yesterday.

Supervisor M's concerns mostly center around his inability to "organize." Leelo has real problems with sequencing, as (IMHO) evidenced by his inability to sing an entire simple song--no matter how well he knows it--unless in a supremely focused moment, or prompted.

So, a second meds (sorry, I will no longer write out "psychopharmacology") consult is in the works. This time I will try for an appointment with the folks at the MYND Institute. Babysitter A went to a presentation by one of their bigwigs, who discussed autism and meds at length--far beyond the three meds (Ha1dol, Rita1in/Risperda1, and Na1trexone) advocated at YouCSF.

Meds are a last resort. We would not be using them for our convenience--no matter how many jokes I make about drugging the kids before we go to a restaurant--nor will we accept any stupefying effects. The goal is to help Leelo, to see if his almost uncontrollable impulsivity and activity can be toned down to the point where he can take advantage of opportunities to learn, communicate, and play. I think he really wants to, and simply can't.

Of course my mind concocts miracle scenarios where new meds result in a Cure!, simply because that is what parents in my shoes do. I recognize that my meds-based daydreams are unrealistic. What I do dare to hope for, however, is that Leelo will have more chances to use his rarest smile, the one he puts on when he figures out something all by himself. That's my real fantasy.

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