It Works!

Now and then we get some surprises.  This time, it was a mixed blessing, but still a blessing overall.  Stay with me and I’ll show you what I mean.

Doctors are finding surprising results from medications traditionally used for other purposes.  In this case, the medication is Cycloserine, a generic of a drug (formally under the name Seromycin) manufactured by Eli Lilly.  This drug is an antibiotic that does not carry with it the same risk factors as antipsychotics, SSRI’s, etc.  It was traditionally used in the prevention of tuberculosis.

There is a more in depth description of Cycloserine, here, where it also describes some uses.  For our part, our psychiatrist has used it for people on the autism spectrum, where it has, in his experience, worked to “open up” the verbal channels and promote speech in the non-verbal.

My 9 year old son has struggled with expression his whole life.  He has trouble connecting feelings with language and has always reacted to triggers without us knowing that he was even upset about something.  His affect has always been quite flat so it has been hard to see into his feelings, whether happy or sad.  He has never been able to verbalize any of what has bothered him appropriately, and has always historically resorted to meltdowns and unsafe behaviors without warning.

After a little more than a month on Cycloserine, there is a stark, remarkable difference.  All of a sudden he is keeping a “feelings” journal (what?!? really?!?) and speaking at length with his therapists about what bothers him at school, at home, with other kids, on the bus, you name it!  Here, you will have to understand that we had actually suspended outside therapy because we were making no progress with CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). My son could give all the “right” answers and talk the talk, but he could not speak about his own feelings or internalize anything that was being taught to him.  Even though I new very well there were sensory issues, the degree of severity with which some of these affect him are now becoming more clear.

This progress has been amazing and very helpful to all of us.  However, there has been a downside and I wanted to be transparent about that, too.  Even with other mood stabilizers in place, his mood has gone back to rapid cycling.  He is having meltdowns and some aggressive behavior.  Right now, we are tweaking his other medications to alleviate those symptoms.  Still, this result is not only what we hoped for, it is something I had almost given up on hoping would ever happen.

Thankful to doctors like our psychiatrist, who are always keeping abreast of the latest treatments, as well as really listening and understanding what we as families experience. Very grateful.




Schizophrenia, Autism and Overlap

I was excited, three weeks ago, to read information about some new studies being conducted in the field of genetics.  Researchers have found overlap in mutations of genes in Schizophrenia and also those connected with mutations in autism and cognitive disabilities.  You can read the article here.

I have always been interested in how many of the traits seemingly reserved for autism affect my oldest with a serious mental illness.  Processing, poverty of speech, affect, executive function issues are all part of his deficits, along with his diagnosis of early onset schizophrenia.  Two of my other sons exhibit nearly the same processing, executive function and working memory deficits.  Their WISC scores are nearly identical all across the board.

Sometimes it is really tough to get others, including professionals, to understand that which we see and experience at home.  This is why it is doubly important that we have access, either through the school system or privately, to affordable testing so that our kids can be identified and accommodated early on to reduce stress, anxiety and hardship.

Studies like these are important in getting the focus off of completely environmental factors that some professionals are so quick to latch onto.  Behaviorists tend to unduly blame parents and environment for what is happening with our children.  I have seen some insist that consequence/reward systems work for EVERY child.  The more we learn and discover about genetic factors and brain function, the more we see that this simply isn’t true.