Decision Crossroads

A mother has to make the hard decisions about medication for her son.

Sonia Billadeau April 15, 2014
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justin vdI hate the decisions that fall to an adoptive mom to make, about really serious things, and usually without adequate info. My nine-year-old son is having so many behavior problems, we started the process for him to see a new psychiatrist (the old one that only saw him once left private practice). Justin is hyperactive and unfocused, but more dramatically, he is so fearful. We live half a block from his elementary school on a fairly busy street so we want him to walk on the sidewalk, but he regularly breaks that rule to ride his bike because he says he feels safer. There was a red-headed man in a white van this summer who allegedly tried to entice two kids into his van, and Justin says he sees that van every day, that “the kidnapper” (as Justin calls him) calls him by name. Justin has nightmares that the kidnapper is stabbing him. It’s heartbreaking to hear him say his prayers because he’s always praying that he’ll be safe and that he won’t have any nightmares. He’s afraid to sleep in his room because he thinks it has spiders, dust mites, and bed bugs. He may or may not be hallucinating. He tells me the bathtub is haunted because he swears he turns the water off and then it’s running again when he goes back in there. He told the psychiatrist that he saw the dog “float”, but then said, “I’m telling the truth,” so the doctor doesn’t believe him. I’m not sure. The psychiatrist referred to Justin as a “puzzle” and asked me if that upset me. I said no, that I already knew that. No one knows exactly what to do to help him.

Justin has explosive anger at home and at school, and then he vacillates between happy and scared the rest of the time. The psychiatrist says he can’t rule out Bi-polar because of Justin’s bad reaction to stimulant ADHD meds last summer. The treatment for Bi-polar would be anti-seizure or anti-psychotic meds. I really don’t want to get Justin started on those heavy-duty meds with their heavy-duty side-effects unless I have to.

The psychiatrist says don’t use ADHD supplements, use medication. The counselor says don’t use medication, use ADHD supplements. The primary physician says processed foods are notorious for ADHD and we should eliminate as many as possible, the psychiatrist says there’s no evidence of that. And I sit in the middle of this vortex of professionals, trying to filter everyones contradictory advice. My sister-in-law did give me a spot of hope when she reminded me that I have something that none of these professionals have: mother’s intuition.

My mother’s intuition tells me the overriding concern is Justin’s anxiety, and we need to address that before anything else. The psychiatrist agreed we could start him on a low dose of Buspar,  there’s solid evidence it helps with anxiety, good evidence it helps with ADHD, and may help with explosive anger. And it has minimal side effects. But it takes two weeks to two months to be effective, and it might not even be the right pill after all this investment in time.

I hate being the one to make these decisions when none of the professionals around me agree. I’m counting on my mother’s intuition to lead me in the right direction. And hoping that I have the patience.

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Sonia Billadeau


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