Thursday, February 02, 2012

Update: Austin

I saved Austin for last so I could pray over how much to share about his fall. I think if he were writing this, he would tell you that these were the worst days that he ever experienced. It certainly was hard to watch him go through these struggles. I felt completely helpless. What I'm about to share, I share with the utmost respect for my son. He is, without a doubt, the bravest person that I have ever met. With everything that he was going through during the fall, he still managed to play a record-breaking season of baseball, take a fishing trip to Florida with another family, and help out his dad at church when he needed a back-up drummer.

It started over the summer rather innocuously. Looking back, I suspect it was the pressure of starting "high school" that pushed him over the edge. Once again, he was having thoughts that he couldn't control  and it got so bad that he didn't want to leave the house. When he mentioned a few times that he wished he were dead - we decided it was time to get help. I called the Marcus Autism Center to get him an appointment with a professional who was familiar with the autism spectrum and could tell me if this was autism-related or something more. The first available appointment was in December. I was making this call in September. And yes, they were aware that he was saying the things he was saying.

Fortunately for him, things improved somewhat through the fall. Slowly but surely, the thoughts diminished. He had his rock band to focus on, and that was so beneficial! And then, just when things were starting to look up..... BAM!!!!

We got a phone call from the mom of one of the band members saying that her son had called her to say that he thought Austin was having a seizure at band rehearsal. She had told him to call 9-1-1 and she would call us. He did so, and my dh headed over to the band rehearsal location. By the time he arrived, the paramedics were there and Austin was conscious. My mother had been in town, so she stayed with the girls, and I met them at the hospital.

I never could have known that night sitting in the ER (same room as the last time he had a seizure) how dramatically that moment would change our lives. Never in my wildest dreams! Up to that point, Austin had always been very upset about being on the autism spectrum (in fact, he would barely accept the word Aspergers, certainly NEVER autism) and having epilepsy/seizures. He wouldn't tell ANYONE! But in the ER room, he told me that he realizes how important it was that his band mate knew about him (they have been family friends since the two boys were 12 months old!). The other two boys were just freaking out and confused by the convulsions... his other band mate knew it was probably a seizure and called for help. Austin decided - ON HIS OWN - to tell all of the guys in the band about his medical history. And when he did... they just kind of said, "OK, cool... let's go work on this new song!"

It changed everything!!!! These guys, who Austin calls "like brothers to me", accepted him for who he is! And it gave him such confidence!! He started going to church on Wednesday night to be part of the youth group. It was awesome to watch! We saw the neurologist (now that we were back on medication) and she really made him mad when she commented on him being so skinny. I had never seen him express his displeasure to an adult like that before, and I really loved it because, honestly, she had been rather rude to him and me. He's 15, NOT 5. She kept asking me what he eats... well, he's 15. I don't watch him nonstop! She talked ABOUT him instead of TO him. And when she did talk TO him, she was so rude.

December rolled around and it was time for the appointment with the psychiatrist. I asked Austin if he wanted to keep the appointment since he was doing so much better. He said he would like to go ahead and talk to the doctor. So we did.

And again, I was surprised by my son. We discussed options with the doctor and Austin asserted himself yet again. He told her that he would like to try some medication to help with the anxiety and obsessive thoughts. I sure wasn't expecting that. Not at all. But I had to respect Austin's point of view and the fact that he is taking charge of his health. In just 2.5 years, I won't be able to make medical decisions for him... he needs to learn how to advocate for his own health needs. I filled the prescription (a generic form of prozac) and we asked him to pray over the decision, as we would be as well, since this was something none of us had prepared for.

After about a week... Austin was ready to give it a shot. To say the changes have been remarkable would be a serious understatement!!! A few weeks after he started the meds, he started texting . Girls. And then, he was calling. Girls. Yeah, we were all stunned. He had had a cell phone for almost a year but barely touched it. Now his phone was 'pinging' so much we had to tell him to silence it!! Just yesterday, he walked into church and walked right up to the youth table in the sanctuary and sat down with the rest of the kids. Six months ago, it took my husband nearly an hour to get him into that same room!! It's been an amazing transformation - and despite the medication, we are so happy for him! I guess I didn't realize that I had such prejudice and fear regarding antidepressant medication... but it seems to be working for Austin, and I pray it continues. He had told the doctor that he "couldn't live like this anymore" - and now he doesn't have to!

Here are a few pic from the fall - starting with baseball (one heck of a season!):
A cool shot of Austin on board their fishing charter... heading out into the Gulf of Mexico:
A shot of Austin behind the drums at a gig - do you know how hard it is to get a clear shot of a drummer??
And here he is behind the drums during a church service!

Academics have been more of a challenge this year than ever before, but the effects of the meds seem to be transferring to school work as well. While math and science are still absolutely kicking his butt - he is exhibiting much more patience and perseverance, and I think ultimately that will result in a better understanding. It's hard to learn much when you are anxious about having such a hard time with learning!

So, there you have it - that was our fall. :)  And now you're all caught up on the kids...


poohder said...

THIS makes my heart sing

The Glasers said...

What a story of fear, trust, and grace! It fills me with joy that Austin is learning such powerful lessons at his age.

Celeste Jean said...

This was very touching to read... I can see my son in his shoes someday, learning to make decisions for himself.