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Stephanie Update (2006-10-07 - 7:54 a.m.)

Here's an update on Stephanie and what we've been doing for the past couple of weeks.

About two weeks ago, we began having a series of "meltdowns" revolving around going to school and doing P.E. We had another set of fights on Friday, and the following Monday, which prompted us to seek more help.

We called our pediatrician, who has been right along with us through this journey, and he suggested a psychiatric treatment facility in Fort Worth called The Sundance Center. It's NOT the Sundance Center in Arizona, which is an alcohol treatment center. That's the first one I came up with when I "googled" Sundance Center.

This is an outpatient treatment center specifically designed for children, pre-adolescents and adolescents who are experience behavior issues. They do have experience with ASD and have worked with autistic children in the past, although that is not their main thrust.

We went for an interview with their people on a Tuesday morning, and enrolled Stephanie that day. She began going there on Wednesday. The rest of that week went ok. They pick Stephanie up in the morning and bring her back in the afternoon. She is out of school for the duration of this program, which averages 3-6 weeks. The school is supposed to be gathering homework for us to send with Stephanie to the center, as they have a two hour session each afternoon designed for doing homework. This keeps the children from getting so far behind in their schoolwork.

Stephanie meets with a psychiatrist several times a week. We meet with a family therapist once a week, and we meet in a multi-family group once a week. So there's a lot of time invested in this program for all of us. Oh, yes. And it's covered by our insurance! That's good.

After the first weekend, Stephanie began having a little sinus trouble, and got it into her head that she was not going to the Center on Monday morning. This was after they started her on Wellbutrin on about Thursday of the first week. Wellbutrin is an antidepressant which is classified as a "dopamine reuptake blocking compound." Don't ask me to explain all that. Look it up, if you need to, but there is a lot of stuff that revolves around dopamine in autistic people. It's all tied in with the methylation process, which, apparently is the root of the whole problem here.

I was a little concerned that they were starting her on meds so quickly, but at this point, we were willing to try just about anything, as long as they didn't want her on methylphenidate (Ritalin or Concerta). I won't do that again.

The following Monday, we had another huge fight. Stephie didn't want to go to Sundance. She didn't feel good. Etc. Finally, the van driver was able to come in and talk her into going. She came home with another med that afternoon, called Abilify. This is a brand of aripiprazole, which is classified as a med for bipolar disorder, as well as being an antipsychotic. When asked if I thought Steph was psychotic, I responded, "You should have seen her Monday morning." 'Nuff said.

She has been a totally different child since then. Tuesday morning, she woke up happy, cheerful, ready to go, and we haven't had an issue since. Problem is, we really don't know which med did the trick here. It was probably too early for the Abilify to have made a good entry into her system. Whatever it was, it's been great.

We've had two sessions with the family therapist and one multi-family session. We don't have our multi-family one next week because it falls on Columbus day. Plus, they follow the break schedule of a different school district (they are in Fort Worth, we are in the Keller school district), so we still have to have some homework for her to do next week, even though she would have been on Fall Break.

That's where we are since the last update. I still haven't really launched into the Genetic Analysis yet. Lazy, I guess. It's going to take a lot of time and energy to figure out.

TTFN, y'all

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