Saturday, June 7, 2008

School Trips

Yesterday was the big school trip to Liberty Science Center. Wow, what a day! Gus was so excited I thought his head might start spinning a la Linda Blair. The car ride was long, long, long, but thanks to the meds, Gus fell asleep for a few minutes. The angst (amplified by the five-year-old mantra of, "Are we there yet?") didn't start until we unwisely decided to use my GPS to get ahead of the school bus because I had to find a bathroom ASAP. We survived, dry and in one piece and finally connected with the rest of the class.

LSC has four floors of hands on exploration, amazing exhibits, a huge IMAX theater and scheduled shows. And while it seemed that every school in the tri-state area was visiting, it was relatively uncrowded. I don't want to imagine what it would have been like otherwise.

We started on the first floor at the skyscraper exhibit. Gus promptly lost it. He wasn't misbehaving, rather he was so over-the-top excited, he was trying to pull me in every direction at once. Then he saw one of the interactive exhibits: kids strapped into harnesses and then allowed to walk across construction beams. I thought about letting him do it (he was about to rip my arm out of the socket trying to get up the stairs) but then I had a vision of him going out onto a beam and either a) freaking out when he realized the height or b) enjoying it so much he wouldn't come back. We left the skyscrapers.

The second floor had an exhibit of animals - one of Gus's favorite topics - called Eat and Be Eaten. He raced through the animals in their tanks, but was completely immersed with the presentation. He got to see a sponge, starfish, scorpion (which he wisely did not attempt to pet) and a giant cockroach (which, ugh, they did touch).

Another big hit was the Germ exhibit. A model of a human head randomly sneezed on the kids, and they of course were tickled senseless by this! I was pretty amused myself, just watching the glee at being splattered.

The best part of the day was the Science of Fear exhibit. That finally engaged him enough to calm him down. It was pretty darned cool. There were four booths set up, each to test different types of fear. The first had you stick your hand into a dark opening just below a tank with a snake and a sign that said Can you feel if an animal has climbed into the hole? Neither of us was that brave. Next to that was a big Jacob's Ladder of electrical current that asked you to stick your finger into a casing and allow yourself to get shocked. He declined and I took quite a while to get up the nerve. Then there was the Fear of Loud Noises. You sat in front of a video camera waiting, waiting and then BOOM! a sound like a shot came out of nowhere. Then the video replayed in slow motion to show you how you looked. Hilarious! He loved that. The best was last of course. The Fear of Falling where you get strapped to a table that tilts slowly back before suddenly dropping you to a cushion. Better than an amusement park ride. Gus took it like a champ, but more impressively, he waited on the long line with the patience of a Buddah. Score!

Just a word on how the Strattera didn't really. He was as hyper as he ever is in that type of situation and the car ride home was pretty nuts. Instead of crashing like we expected, he was totally revved up, even more so when we got home. I didn't expect that the medication would have done much.

All in all a fun day. He's asking if there's a Science of Fear exhibit closer to us. So I guess I'll stop writing and start looking.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Can't Tell If It's Working or Not

The higher dose of Strattera may or may not be working. It's hard to tell. Gus has been generally calmish except for little bouts of hyperactivity (in varying degrees of intensity) in the evenings. He's had decent days at school, but he's been crying a lot. Yesterday I asked him if something was bothering him and he said, "My head felt like a squished plantain." It seems like the medication may be helping a little in some areas, but overall, not a great difference. And the sensory issues still seem heightened. The impulse control, which is what we were hoping to help the most, is still not there. Yesterday, Gus decided it would be a good idea to hang from the curtains, and the curtain rod was pulled clean out of the wall. This was not the first time it's happened. Tonight my husband caught him chewing on the controller wires for his Gamecube - again seeking that oral sensory stimulation. He hasn't had problems with that in quite some time.

So I don't know that the medication is worth it, especially with comments like the one yesterday and some of the behaviors we're noticing.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Location Could Be Everything

I just had an interesting chat with the morning bus monitor. Gus has been able to get out of his car seat and has gotten up, but he only does it when the bus is stopped and they are waiting for the teachers to come out and get the kids. The impression from both bus monitors is that he's really smart and sweet and funny. He's not using any negative language or behavior during his hours with them. This is consistent with the way he generally behaves at home. He went through his phase of 'potty mouth' and occasionally gets nasty, but so does every other kid. Mostly, he's got a very laid-back, likable personality.

So the monitor made an observation about his ear-covering, which he's started doing these past couple of months. She felt that maybe he was just exposed to too much 'noise' during the day and is trying to block it out. By noise she meant corrections, instructions, demands, other kids...It's true that there are a lot more expectations on him than ever and being in a mainstream school building, visiting some mainstream classes (music) may be too much stimulation for him.

I can't argue that even though he wasn't getting as much in the realm of academics last year, he was certainly a happier kid and his staff was happier with him.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Unexpected and Curious

Today marks the fourth day of Gus's Strattera re-trial. Our first go at the medication ended after about six days because his behavior became wild on the afternoon of day six - to the point of endangering himself and the other people on the school bus. The doctor and I worried that increasing the dosage would make matters worse, but the results have been surprising.

Gus's behavior at home this weekend has been vastly different than what we heard from school. He's been very calm for the most part, sleepy even toward the afternoon. Yesterday there was one brief bout of grumpiness because he wanted to play a computer game and his sister wanted to watch TV, so he locked himself away in his room for a while. But there's been no name-calling or rudeness. As a matter of fact he was at a birthday party at a very crowded place and was just great. Around 5:30 he got a little burst of hyperactivity; last week it came a little earlier than normal - about 3ish.

One small issue he had last night was that he kept getting out of bed whereas he is usually the first to fall asleep. It was especially weird since he was completely exhausted from the day. But sometimes being too tired can effect the ability to fall asleep, so I won't panic over it.

Now, he'll be getting to that point where he started having serious problems early in the week. It seems that the increased dosage pushed back the bout of wildness enough that he hasn't had any bus trouble yet, but we'll see. If there's no major change for the worse on the bus, I'm willing to keep him at this level for a while longer and I'll probably even let teacher know by Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on when I speak to Doc. I'm sure she'll be pissed that I didn't tell her sooner, but scientific studies are often done blind for a good reason.