I vaguely remember conversations through the years addressing some of my son Jac's diagnosis and symptoms—and how they’ll hopefully lessen as he gets older. I don't recall any doctors warning me about how bad things could get when puberty happens to boys. It is making Jac’s behavior much more difficult.
Our son is a 14-year-old who has autism, epilepsy, asthma, and several other issues.
Summer had been relatively calm until August, when something in the wind changed. I noticed Jac started eating a lot. He seldom ate much in one sitting, but suddenly, he eats like he’s starving. Jac is on several medications for his health issues. I always wonder if his appetite is affected by the meds, but this new appetite and growth spurt came out of nowhere.
Summer isn't always easy on kids with autism because they miss the routine of school. Jac was lucky enough to qualify for summer school this year. It ended in July, and we try to keep a structured environment as much as possible, but when summer school ended, Jac became a different boy … a scary boy.
My son is hyper, but now he was turning angry, violent, aggressive. He throws things, and I must admit, he has great aim. Once, he threw a DVD case at me and hit me in the face. Instead of dancing to his music, he was now slamming his door over and over and over.
My husband and I took him to the pediatrician's office and asked about this behavior. As we sat and listened, we realized we never had this typical "angry" puberty experience with our oldest son. It's not something we’ve experienced before.
In addition to structure, boys with special health care needs need to have activities to work out their aggression—much like typical developing boys who are involved in sports, such as soccer, football, basketball or other sports. Finding ways for boys to participate in similar activities should help the symptoms, even if it’s just taking walks or participating in Special Olympics sport activities.
Visit this website’s section on Teenagers with Disabilities for more information.
After making the difficult decision to medicate your child, with time and on occasions, old symptoms return or new ones appear. Once again, you’re faced with what felt like an already-made decision - to medicate higher or more, or not.