For the past two months I have been dealing with my daughter’s annual spring decline. We seem to have a couple of months in the winter when she is fairly predictable in terms of behavior and we can safely take her out to dinner and plan family outings.  We then think that whatever support or intervention we are doing at the time is working. Then she gradually becomes more anxious, has increasing bowel issues and regurgitation, and she starts having outbursts of aggression seemingly out of the blue. Usually the physicality is towards herself with hitting herself in the face and pulling her hair out, screaming at the top of her lungs. The neighbors think we are beating her I’m sure and I’ve seen their little boy look at us with fear and then run back inside his house quickly.

Then sometimes the aggression is directed at the random person in her line of sight or who might go to her to try to keep her from injuring herself severely.  Then that person gets the biting, grabbing and hair pulling.

In the last month the police have been called to help subdue her four times. This has never happened in all our lives together. None of these times was she home with her family. That makes it easy to blame the staff at her house for not doing their job or for possibly treating her badly. However, I have also been in the situation where people have asked me if I want them to call the police and I have declined their offer. I know how scary and sudden these attacks can be. I have read news stories of parents of adults with autism being killed by their at-home children.

Not wishing to be written about in this way, I finally suggested that we try some medication to help Lily to help herself. She is always very sad after these episodes and it is clear that she does not have control over her actions. Hopefully she will not have any side effects from the new medication and she will feel better and we can have fun again. And she wont be putting her staff in the hospital.

It is important to note that we have tried many, many things over the years to try to help her. She has been on seizure medication, diets, supplements, exercise programs, behavior programs etc and still she has these outbursts just like she did when she first developed autism.  Many would have given medication well before this; but, she went to a school that used medication only as a last resort. And now that she is in the adult world, her program has fallen apart and is not kept up.  And even if it were I could not say definitively that she would be wonderfully behaved.  As I said in the beginning, we think whatever we are doing is helping her when she is behaving well and then things fall apart for no apparent reason, in the spring.

Maybe she is allergic to warm weather and it triggers seizure-like activity in the brain. Maybe that is why the summer she was on the low glycemic index diet for seizure control she did well and enjoyed her August vacation. Too bad that people cannot seem to refrain from giving her ice cream and cookies. Why do most people have difficulty imagining a life without sweets, bread and pasta?

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