Anyone who knows me knows how anti-medication I am and how much I dislike the idea of medicating my kids, regardless of their conditions. However, with that being said, let me tell you how excited we are with my son's progress using Risperdal, "the autism drug". For several years we were afraid to try medications because we were afraid Beastie would not be able to tell us if he was suffering from side-effects. We have finally hit our own personal "rock bottom" over the summer and we were out of new things to try. We decided to get in to see Dr. Karen Kennedy at Meadowlands and on her recommendation we tried Risperdal. Our rationalization behind this was because we had seen a noticeable increase in Beastie's cognitive abilities whenever he was taking cold medicine or when he had undergone a surgical procedure with sedation. It seemed to us that when we used chemicals to slow his brain and body down he was much more likely to be able to concentrate and focus. As I said, we had been doing 3 years of 30+ hours a week of ABA/VB and we did a five month stint of a strict GF/CF diet with little to no noticeable improvement.
When we started the Risperdal we told no one other then his TSS. We sent him to camp and all of the people at camp were asking, "What's different with Beastie?" Within a week we were noticing significant increases in his cognitive abilities and especially his receptive language. We have been on the medicine for 5 weeks so far and have seen none of the side effects sometimes reported. We were told to expect to see changes after about 8-10 weeks. We are just beginning to see increases in expressive language. Up until now our little man has had almost no functional verbal communication and everything he said had to be prompted first. We are now noticing him beginning to use verbalizations to answer questions and express his needs. For example, before when we knew he wanted a drink we used to have to prompt him to sign "drink" and make a "d-d-d" sound. Now we ask him, "What do you want?" and he spontaneously says, "D-d-d" while signing. We directly attribute this to the Risperdal. We believe that it helps his brain to "slow down" so that he can process what we are asking and formulate an answer. We have also noticed decreases in his constant need for movement. He can now sit in circle time or watch TV or watch a movie or listen to a story, all things that were very difficult or nearly impossible for him a few weeks ago.
Now I know every child is different and I am sure Risperdal won't work for every child with autism, much as the diet did not work for us, but I hope that other parents who might be in similar situations as us will be willing to try it and see if it helps their child. And as I said at first, for someone who is pretty adamantly non-medication, that is a huge thing for me to be saying.