Monday, October 20, 2014

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 Kandi Fullerton, Community Member, asks


My grandson was just diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, he had been previously diagnosed with ADHD, the pediatric neurologist and the psychologist disagree on the medication what do we do


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Answers (16)
Dr. Diana L Walcutt, Health Guide
9/16/08 10:52pm

Gosh, Kandi, you really are stuck between a rock and a hard place!


Bear in mind one thing. Unless you are living in one of the two states that allow psychologists to prescribe medicine (Louisiana or New Mexico) or, the Military, you might want to listen to your pediatric neurologist. Most psychologists are not trained in medicine and while they have valuable opinions, they certainly cannot have the same knowledge as a pediatric neurologist. If you don't trust your neurologist, then find one you do trust, or seek a second opinion.


Medication does help with ADHD, but until 2006, there are no specific medications to treat Autistic disorders including Asperger's.  However, in 2006, Risperdal was approved for treating Autism. Risperdal is an antipsychotic drug used to treat Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder and

irritability in Autistic children. 


Most doctors typically treat the symptoms that they see in Autistic children, such as anxiety, depression, rage, attention problems, etc., and you can read more at this think Child-Autism-Parent-Cafe.


I have been using Neurofeedback successfully with both ADHD and Autistic Spectrum children for many years and the results are extremely  rewarding for both the children and their parents. You can learn more about Neurofeedback and Autism here from one of the leading experts in the country.


Best of luck,

Dr. Diana Walcutt

Towson Psychological Services


*Dr. Walcutt is a Psychologist, not a Psychiatrist. Psychiatrists prescribe medications. Psychologists study them, but most Psychologists are not authorized to prescribe meds or give you specific advice about them. Dr. Walcutt's answers are not intended to diagnose or treat any medical or mental disorder. Any information given in a post about medication is for educational purposes only, and primarily to aid you in having an informed discussion with your own Psychiatrist/Physician.

lovergirl99, Community Member
2/21/11 2:46pm

My son Adhd and mild autism the meds that the doctor put him on it makes him so spaced out and won't eat I don't want him like that I want him to be calm and himself I need help with this and what should I do

Tammy, Community Member
9/18/08 11:49am


I have a 5 year old son who also has been diog. with ADHD & Autism.  He has never been medicated because the medication could backfire and make things worse due to the combo. of diog. so it takes alot of love structure and effort. 


gigifromga, Community Member
9/18/08 11:50am

I read the expert's answer to your question and I agree completely with her.  My son was diagnosed with Aspergers three years ago and ADHD 5 years ago.  He's been on meds for ADHD for 5 years and began on Risperdal and Paxil about 3 yrs.  He's been changed form Adderall to a new med called Vyvanse for ADHD, which does not have as many side effects.  Granted, when his Pediatric Psychiatrist added Riperdal, I was resistant at first.  I am a nurse.  My first reaction was.......that's an antipsychotic!!  But, it has worked well for the tics originally caused by Adderall, picking, scratching his arms, etc.  He's also on a low dose of Paxil for anxiety because he has chest pains sometimes and is just literally anxious alot.  I've made it clear to his doctor that I don't want him to be drugged up, which he's not.  You can definitely tell if he's not had his meds and he can tell, too.  He's 12 and he wants his medicine.  I also, was diagnosed with the same conditions, pretty much around the same time as he was.  The doctors saw it and suggested testing. 

What I'm trying to say is, sometimes, doctors may not agree with one another.  But, the neurologist is ultimately responsible for his care.  Give it some time, you'll be able to see the improvements and differences in him when his meds reach their optimal level.

Tyler's Mom, Community Member
12/ 8/09 11:39am

I am curious my son was diagnosed with ADHD/Autisim 5 years ago as well.  We started to see a new psychologist a few months ago who recommended we try the risperdal but I am affraid to try such a serious drug.  My son does not have an type of aggression which is what I thought the risperdal was mainly for in autistic children.  But after reading your message it sounds as if the risperdal works in other ways as well.  Did it seem to help with the ADHD?  My son has these "silent battles" with his hands all day long at school and can not stand the noise in his class room so I'm wondering if this medicince would help or not. 

Angie, Community Member
9/18/08 11:56am

Find a psychrist that specializes in the study of autism to get that third opinion.

Evaluate all points of view to make the most informed decision you can for your child.

Ella, Community Member
9/18/08 12:20pm

Have the docs call each other and make a joint decision.

aspiemom, Community Member
9/18/08 2:16pm

The specialist you need is a developmental pediatrician.  Developmental pediatricians are pediatricians with extra training to specialize in developmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorders, as well as ADHD.  I'd make sure you're with the right kind of doctor to treat the condition in the first place. 


Autism spectrum disorders affect every aspect of the patient's life.  The developmental pediatrician is an excellent resource - from diagnosing overlapping conditions, to knowing the types of therapies available, to being able to prescribe medications. 


Your family's life just changed in many more ways than you can ever understand.  I encourage every new family that visits our support group to do three things: 1. visit a developmental pediatrician and ensure that the professionals you work with understand autism spectrum disorders (not all psychologists are alike in this area either), 2. find a good occupational therapist who understands sensory integration dysfunction (again, not all of them do - it is a specialty area within a specialty area), and 3. READ, READ, READ everything you can about your loved one's condition.


Good luck!

Anniston, Community Member
9/18/08 3:40pm

Hi Kandi, I'm sorry about your receiving a more significant diagnosis than you originally had.  My wife and I have been through this with our child, only we were first told ASD, then ADHD, then another said ASD.  Ay, caramba.  Medication is a huge issue, and really tough to resolve.  What I can say from our own experience and friends who have been through this is:  you will have to try many medications, and the most important thing is that you are comfortable with whomever is doing the prescribing that (1) they've handled these cases before and (2) they are clear with you about how long they will keep your grandson on the medication before changing dose or switching.  May I ask how old your grandson is and what medications they're considering?  Some ADHD stimulants, alone, may exacerbate certain behavioral trends, while others in combination with other medications may work better.  Almost all of these medications are being prescribed off-label.  My personal suggestion is that you should not let a psychologist dictate prescribing, since they generally do not have a lot of experience; but rather you try to find a pediatric psychiatrist who has experience prescribing.  Either way, please be prepared:  the first medication is not the last, you will have to tweak dosages, and this will be hard for your grandson to go through.  But, you have to tell yourself that once you find the right medication combination, it will make life at least a bit easier in socializing and focusing.

marla78, Community Member
9/18/08 6:45pm

my son has autism spectrum disorder too. a few months before he was actually diagnosed, he was put on meds for adhd because he was very hyper.  he would run out into traffic and run from room to room purposely bumping into things. after he was diagnosed he stayed on the adhd meds and he gets a small dose of risperdal also.  they say that there were studies, with adderall and risperdal, that show it actually helps some autistic children. my son is doing great!

Renee, Community Member
9/18/08 11:26pm

ask then both to define the disorder your grandson has,,, than ask what medicine would they give there own childern if this is what they had,,,,,  You may be suprised at what you learn.... and  Please write down what they say at all times this can be a confusing time for all family members,,, and read what ever you can,,,, there's a great new site Just ask,,,, you have to pay for answers but the Dr there are great helps....    Renee


healingmomma, Community Member
9/19/08 9:03am

I have been in that very same situation.  My son has an Autism Spectrum Disorder

and ADHD.  We had to try a few different medications to see what one worked better.

I let my son's primary care doctor decide what the best "first" step would be so that I didn't tear myself up trying to pick what medication I thought would be best.  The rough thing is that ADHD and Autism seem to almost go hand in hand.  My son was found to have both in the end.  My sister has a child that has ADHD and autism as well and her doctors did the very same thing as well.  I realized early on that it seemed so much like ADHD and I wanted to get rid of some of the sypmptoms and self stimulitory behaviors like the constant motion and the bouncing around as well as the verbal repitition that I wanted to help him with.  I studied long and hard and realized that its all about what works for the child and the best method is the least invasive medication. You want to work with the one that has the least amount of side affects.

I know that its never easy changing from one med to another but there are some that will work for one child but not the other ten children with the same diagnosis.  Find out about the medications they want to prescribe and see what one you think would best handle the things that you are trying to control.  Its not a matter of what doctor is right its a matter of what medication will work best for your child.  From the information over the last few years that I have gathered I found that for my son Respiridal and ridalin were the number one medications perscribed to children with spectrum disorders.  They are the ones that my sister and I both use for our children.

I also found that because our children don't see our neurologists on a regular basis that its is best for us to get our medications from our primary care doctors or the local mental health.  In the end just remember you know what is best for your loved oneSmile

rmdupl, Community Member
9/19/08 3:36pm

Your grandson is either a child with ADHD or autism, not both.  If you look in the Statistical Diagnostic Manual, found in the reference section of public libraries, you  can read the criteria for diagnosing each disorder.  Many behaviors of autism look like attention deficit disorder.  Before medicating your grandson, as a special educator, I strongly suggest you find a special educator and/or autism specialist to work with your grandson, at school or privately, and implement appropriate techniques and strategies at school and home before making a decision regarding medication.  Over time, you may find your grandson will not need medication at all, but with proper instruction, structure/boundaries, sensory/motor intervention, and social cueing will progress very well.

Cyndi A, Community Member
9/20/08 3:58pm

My son was diagnosed with Asperger's before he was diagnosed with ADHD.  His doctor did a medication trial, as I would hope most would.  It was a Ritalin and a placebo.  None of us new which was which until the 2 week trial was over and the doctor looked over the reports.  He then called the pharmacy where they were compounded.  Turns out he did better on the placebo.  So we went with Concerta.  It has been good so far (going on 2 years).  But as with anyone, every child is different and will react to medications in different ways.  If your grandson's doctor hasn't done a med trial, I would suggest it.  And unfortunatly, after that, it is a hit and miss.  But in the long run, it will benefit the child finding the right med, if that is truely what he needs.  Good luck, and keep us posted!  Laughing

ragingval, Community Member
9/23/08 6:22pm

As a teacher, having worked in special education for 10 years, and a mother of an ADHD child, this would be my opinion.  Autistic students do have varying degrees of attention.  Some also have varying degrees in the ability to "sit still" for long periods of time.  Is it co-existing conditions?  I don't think so.  I tend to think that his behaviors, if they fall into the ADHD spectrum, are probably more manifest of the Autism.  What you might want to ask your doctors is if the child would benefit from ADHD meds to increase attention and on-task time, so that the child could benefit more from the educational environment.  Remember, No Child Left Behind MANDATES that ALL children will be taught and TESTED at grade level.  It's a tremendous pressure on schools and teachers to push kids out into the regular education environment, instead of specialized classes to meet their needs. 

vimal, Community Member
9/27/08 5:11am

take another opinion this time from a psychiatrist

Dasha, Community Member
11/ 5/08 10:05am
Hi, my son was diagnosed with HDAD and PDD NOS and has sensory issues. We tried some drugs to calm him down first, but it didn't help because of the side effects. My son stutters, has sleeping problems, occasional tics, etc. Medications made those worse. I can't advise about medications, every child is different and I know what it is really works for some. However I want to share what we did for Philippe and what worked for us. 1. Diet (he has whole wheat bread grilled cheese & raw vegetables + fish oil for breakfast). 2. Exercises (we ride bikes to school and run for 5-10 min on a playground before the school starts). 3. Martial arts (helps with discipline, coordination, motivation). Tae Kwon Do worked better when Karate. 4. Swimming (helps with sensory issues). 5. We signed for program (focus, attention, short-term memory). 6. Reiki (we tried it first when he started to stutter to easy up his speech). He goes through speech therapy now, but we continue with Reiki ones a month to for overall health benefits. He couldn't do kindergarten and school suggested special ed. He is very bright (98%) and Department of Education gave us fonds to go to Special Ed private school if we found a placement, and we couldn't! He was so explosive and out of control what he was refused a seat at four high functioning SE schools! Now, Philippe goes to a regular class at his neighborhood school, has very good grades and functions really well. He doesn't take any medication. It took us two years to get there, but now we feel much more in control and Philippe learns about his condition and how to help himself to overcome it. We hope that knowledge and practice will empower him unlike a "magic pill". He couldn't do kindergotten and school sugested special ed. He is very bright (98%) and Department of Education gave us fonds to go to Special Ed private school if we found a placement and we couldn't! He was so explosive and out of control what he was refused a seat at four high function SE schools! Now, Philippe is going to a regular class at his neigbourhood school, has very good grades and functiones really well. He doesn't take any medication. What helps: 1.Diet (he has whole weat bread grilled cheese & raw vegetables + fish oil for breakfast) 2.Exersizes (we ride bikes to school and run for 5-10min on a playground before school starts). 3.Murtial arts (helps with discepline, coordination, motivation). Tae Kwon Do worked better when Karate 4.Swimming (helps with sensory issues) 5.We signed for program (focus, atention, short-term memory) 6.Reiki (we tried it when he started to statter to easy up his speech). He goes through speech therapy now, but we continue with reiki ones a month to mainteign his overall health. It took as two years to get there, but now we feel much more in control and Philippe learns about his condition and how to help himself to overcome it. We hope that knowledge and practise will impower him unlike a "magic pill". Reply
free2pink, Community Member
1/22/13 12:47pm

Did the Attengo work?  I am very skeptical to use this for my son.

Thank you.

keeptrying, Community Member
4/12/10 7:30pm

Best Wishes.  I've noticed research and trial & error before you get it right. Still haven't gotten there yet. School doesn't help.  Time and money.  Battling for years what is wrong with my child but won't give up.  I believe ADHD is a symptom of an underlying brain dysfunction.  Processing problem with my child.  Medication is not an option when you have this belief.  Currently, signed up today as a matter of fact.  Attengo.  In the initial assessment, it asked all the right questions.  We will see if it actually works or just a waste of money. 


free2pink, Community Member
1/22/13 12:49pm

Did the Attengo work?  I am very skeptical to use this for my son.

Thank you.

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By Kandi Fullerton, Community Member— Last Modified: 01/22/13, First Published: 09/16/08