When D. was in 3rd grade, we wanted to have him tested for autism. We had all the paper work ready to go to Easter Seals except for the one D’s teacher was supposed to complete. She did not want to complete the paperwork. We told her that we saw signs of autism and that we wanted to have D. tested. Her pat answer was “Well I don’t see it.” Thankfully he had a different teacher for 4th grade. She was a bit of a drill sergeant with D, and he needed it in her classroom. In 5th grade he had an awesome teacher (His 4th grade teacher had retired at the end of D’s 4th grade year after a 41-year career with the school district). When we went to his IEP meeting at the end of the year, the IEP team had in fact decided that D. is on the autism spectrum.
D. had had a seizure back in 2004, and test results showed he had abnormal brain activity. He’d also been diagnosed with ADHD back when he was in Early Childhood Education. Those of you who have done your homework know that autism ADHD, and epilepsy occur together all too often. Medicines which make ADHD better run the risk of making epilepsy worse, and vice versa. We didn’t want to get into the vicious cycle of adding one medicine to counteract side effects of another medicine, which would make the first medicine less effective, and basically had told the school they were just going to have to do the best they could.
When D. started 6th grade (in 2011) , we decided that it would probably be appropriate to put him on some sort of medication for his ADHD. Went to his primary care doctor, expecting to walk out of there with a prescription for ADHD. As Dr. K. was looking at D’s medical history, he decided that we needed to see a cardiologist (D has a heart murmur) and a neurologist before putting him on ADHD medicine. We were shocked, because D had been seizure free since 2004.
The heart murmur turned out to be completely innocent. The neurologist diagnosed D. with Benign Rolandic Epilepsy. He said “If you’re child is going to have epilepsy, this is the kind to have because many of these kids only ever have one seizure. Those who have more usually only have them in their sleep or when transitioning between asleep and awake.” Also this form of epilepsy tends to go away during puberty. He gave us clearance to put him on ADHD medicine, and said “Oh, by the way, I could tell within 15 seconds of meeting your son that he is on the autism spectrum.”
Back to the primary care Dr. we went, but did some homework before we went to see what ADHD medicine might be suitable for D, especially since we did not want to run the risk of him having another seizure. There are two medicines for ADHD that do not carry an increased risk of seizures. One is Intuniv, and the other is Stratterra. The Stratterra caries the risk of heart problems, and the Intuniv does not, so we went with the Intuniv because it has the least bad side effects. While D. is still not at grade level, he is able to focus during school and has not had any seizures as a result of this medicine. We are very pleased with how it is working.