One year on since we stopped all medication for Zak so here is our update……
My fear flying to Spain last year knowing that Zak had just taken his last Ritalin was softened by knowing a had a secret stash packed deeply in my case and convinced myself that I could sneak him one and bribe him not to tell his Dad. My plan the following morning didn’t even get off the ground as the realisation of Zaks inability to keep a secret dawned on me. Pure honesty comes with Autism and this has its plus’ and minus’. I adore how he has never told a lie. Telling the man at the Esso garage he looks like Mrs Brown and needs to learn his manners, not so much.
Anyway I spent the whole of last summer being a child phycologist watching his every move, analysing him and having a constant game of ping pong in my head.
The downs to no meds….
Zak gained 3 stone
No 3hr morning respite
The ups to no meds….
Ok the 3 stone has been hard to handle, however he was 1 stone underweight to begin with and he has grown 9 cm so in my head he was 1.5 stone over so over the past 3 months we have addressed that and managed to get 18 pounds off him but as I try and join him as much as possible I too have benefited from this!
I have dealt with the lack of respite with a dog! This has proved the best therapy for Zak. Reggie has increased his responsibility, taught him boundaries and given Zak a purpose!
His communication has improved significantly. He is more able to tell me his feelings and what he is struggling with and learnt many techniques to help him including breathing exercises and yoga!
I trained as an aromatherapist 29 years ago but not practised for the last 20, Zak has reignited that passion and I can honestly say they have been life changing for him, school actually want them as part of his day! If you come within 3 foot of me I get you with a rollerball for any ailment.
Zak has also had is Sats this year and I am proud to say I blankly refused for him to participate! How can u take a standardised test for an anything but standard mind??? You wouldn’t ask a fish to climb a tree!! Zak may not know his maths anywhere like his peers but he would give any Olympian a run for their money at javelin!! He’s proving to be a little Jamie Oliver in the kitchen and his knowledge on coronation street characters dating back before he was born is immense!! Please let’s starts measuring all the special qualities of our kids and not just the standard ones!!!!
The bottom line to Zak being better on or off meds and my advice to anyone who has tried them and failed is this….
You never really have a full picture of what your dealing with on meds. They mask the child, his abilities and his personality. How can we give them skills to deal with their issues if you can’t see what they are? I plan to do a protocol for any parents considering the alternative route so please get in touch with any questions.
In the meantime it really is the best decision we ever made and as for Zaks non standard mind….who wants to be remembered as bloody normal anyway 🐟
Well its that time of year again when we have a solid 6 weeks with Zak and without the craziness of school runs, pack lunches and the daily grind, it gives us the time to refocus, regroup and plan for Zaks year ahead.
Hubby hates Zak on medication, believing that we are not dealing with any issues Zak may have, masking what is really going on and asked me to consider a summer without it.
Zaks medication has given me 4 hours of peace a day, taking him down a couple of notches which allows me to do all the above with some kind of normal. One hour after taking it, my home resembles some of what a house with 3 kids in it does……busy!!! Without it……carnage!!
The comedown from Ritalin is unpleasant, Zaks mood adjusting from “on it to normal”. We get anger, frustration and general misery and I think in my mind this is what we would encounter all day without it. Never-mind Zak becoming dependant on it, it has been my crutch.
Zak takes the minimum dose of his medication but every CAMHS appointment we are offered higher, being told due to his growth he “could probably do with more” and then a minimum dose of melatonin every night to counteract the Ritalin to allow him to sleep. All this is handed out to you with no parent warning on the bottle……GUILT!! Ritalin is a controlled drug, which basically means “a potential for abuse or addiction”. This is not just your baby, but your baby who is struggling to cope with the world around them and although I am not against medication in the short term, stratagies and coping skills need to be taught.
I totally believe it has played a positive part of our journey, 3 years ago when Zak was unable to sit and learn and take in knowledge that he would so desperately need in his younger years. However since then he has grown, we have worked so hard with his home based programme that maybe just maybe it was worth a shot.
So one week ago we boarded a plane with an extra suitcase full of aromatherapy oils, plug in vaporisers, crystals, supplements and rescue remedy, repeating my mantra…..we can always change our minds.
What are the changes I have seen? His appetite is back in full force and I have to keep a constant eye on it. Although he has more energy in the morning this is consistent throughout the day, taking no dips or sudden outbursts. His OCD is definatly better and the glazed look has gone. He has managed to still do his independent reading and lego building and his attention is no different and I believe his engagement is better and the guilt from me has vanished.
So will I continue on this holistic lifestyle for Zak or crumble??? At the moment I will say we will continue but I maybe more equipped to answer that at the end of the summer holidays!
You can continue watching Zaks summer on Instagram – tothemoonandzak
And one last thing……don’t forget your own medicine………WINE!!!!
Thanks for reading xxxxx