Alex had his physical this week and it turns out he has now grown enough that his medication needs to be increased. The doctor also suggested that we can give him a temporarily higher dose during predictable times of stress (Christmas, end of school, start of school).
I always considered medication to be a means of last resort. I still do. I think it's important to try behavioural methods before turning to chemical ones. But sometimes, the medicine is necessary. No one can learn if they feel as if they're constantly under assault or if their brain is always whirling with anxiety. It doesn't matter how good the rewards are, it's just not possible.
I have a lot of concerns about Alex being on medication long-term. There are always side effects and those can be significantly different than the ones discovered in the testing process while the drug was being approved. I worry that we've masked the problem and when or if he comes off the medication, we'll discover an even deeper issue. But I won't withhold something which is obviously helping him.
A few weeks after starting the meds, Alex calmed down significantly and began to make a lot of progress. It was as if entire stretches of his brain were suddenly available to help him process the world around him. From descriptions I've read of those who've suffered from high anxiety, that may not be far from the case.
We've tried reducing the amount once and immediately had behavioural issues again. I'm still hoping that we'll eventually be able to teach him enough that he'll be able to cope with the world without drugs, but I'm also allowing myself to accept that if we can't, that's not an automatically horrible thing. If this is what he needs to be happy and productive, then I will take it.