So, last month we had Bearhug's appointment with a psychiatrist. We drove almost an hour away to see one who specializes in seeing children on the spectrum. I've kind of debated with myself how much to share here, but how many hours have I spent scouring the internet hoping to find a similar story to ours, in search of some answers? I don't have any answers to offer yet, but here goes...
We felt a little awkward going to the appointment, since we scheduled it back in November in the midst of some very difficult times for Bearhug. Since then, he'd been doing better, minus one big blowout in mid-January. But since it took so long to get in, we wanted to keep the appointment, figuring that if he started to have a rough time again it would hopefully be easier to get in for a follow-up without having to wait another three months.
I'm soo glad that we did.
The appointment went well. She talked to Bearhug for a while before inviting him to play with the toys in her office while she spoke with us. She started out with basic questions, and I had to laugh when he answered a question about his siblings with this:
"'Cuddlebug' says he was born ten minutes earlier, but I'm stronger!" lol (Cuddlebug was actually born two minutes earlier, not ten, but who's counting?).
After a few minutes of chit-chat, he asked her, "are we going to talk about why I'm here?" We had talked to him beforehand about what kind of doctor she is and why we were taking him to see her. I think he is as much hoping for some answers and help with these problems as we are.
I was really impressed with his ability to articulate the experiences from his perspective. He described how he feels so angry that he just "goes nuts" and "runs to get away" or "attacks people."
At one point she asked him if he's ever thought about killing himself. He said yes, and my heart broke for him. He is only 8 years old. She asked if he's ever tried to do anything about those thoughts, and he said yes again. I admit I was stunned to hear that, I wanted to cry but I needed to stay calm so that he would continue to answer her questions honestly and not feel that he'd said anything wrong. She asked what he had done, and he told her he hit himself in the head and banged his head against the wall. I've seen him do that, but had no idea that he had that intent behind it (at least some of the time apparently).
She recommended scheduling to meet with a psychologist closer to home on a more regular basis for talking / play therapy.
She ordered some blood work to see if there are any biological issues (blood sugar, vitamin deficiencies, whatever) that might need to be addressed (and I think also to get a baseline of his blood levels in the event that we may need to look at trying medication). She also suggested taking him to a neurologist to rule out seizures or other neurological issues.
We saw the neurologist about a week later. He suggested that these are "rage attacks" but ordered an EEG in case there is also some seizure activity. Bearhug has mentioned that he can feel these "episodes" coming on just before they happen, so they asked what that feels like. He said he feels a pain in his arm, that moves to his shoulder, and then it starts. We are trying to work with him on letting someone (us or a teacher if he's at school) know if he feels like that so we can try to help him calm down or at least get somewhere where it's safe to blow off steam if needed before things get out of control. Not that we've been particularly successful with that yet, but we ARE working on it...
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