Did you made any New Year’s resolutions? Have you broken them yet?
One of the most common resolutions is to exercise more and lose weight. And I am among those who have made that resolution. Except that I did not make it for myself.
I made it for my son.
Combating the side effects of medication
We have had Kai, who has autism, on various medications for several months now. After seeing very little positive results from various ADHD and anti-anxiety drugs, Kai’s doctor advised going in a different direction.
He suggested that we try Risperdal, which is the only drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of aggression in children and adolescents with autism. With much of our son’s issues revolving around his difficulty in controlling his anger, we decided to give this drug a try.
It is still too soon to tell if the drug will be beneficial. Kai has been on winter break for much of the time since he’s started the medication. Between not having to go to school, and celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas, Kai has been in a pretty good mood the past couple of weeks. So the true measure of the drug’s impact will come after he has been back in school for a few weeks.
One thing that is clear, however, is that Kai is eating a lot more.
Before we started with Risperdal, we were aware that a possible side effect of the drug is increased appetite and weight gain. But we decided that the potential benefits made it worth trying. Since we’ve started, we have been on the lookout for any signs of Kai wanting to eat more.
We did not have to look too hard.
It is quite evident that our son is now eating a lot more than before. Whereas we used to struggle with getting him to eat everything on his plate, he now willingly eats everything and asks for more.
Plus, he is always proclaiming that he is hungry. Within an hour after eating, he comes to us wanting something more to eat. He wants to snack frequently. He complains if we tell him that he has to wait a half hour for dinner to be prepared.
We feel fortunate that his diet is pretty healthy overall. He eats a lot of fruits and vegetables, often preferring carrots and celery and asparagus to the meat portion of a meal. He almost never eats chocolate. He rarely has soda or juice. His candy intake is limited.
Still, it is alarming to see him eat so much. Of course, it is possible that this is just a growth spurt, but we are concerned that this is the start of an unhealthy pattern.
And we don’t want an overweight, unhealthy child.
So, our New Year’s resolution is for Kai to exercise more.
Working on the resolution
Kai had already been doing a fair amount of physical activity. He has a swim lesson every week. He takes karate two or three times a week. He has PE every day at school. He jumps on several times a day.
But to maintain a healthy body, we know that he likely needs to work off the extra food that he is eating. And so, we have all started going to the for family runs.
There is no cost to use the indoor track there. And though it has been an unusually warm winter so far, it is nice to have climate-controlled conditions in which to run.
The first time we went, the novelty of it helped to keep Kai’s interest. I tried to maintain a slow, steady pace, and kept the distance short to start with. With a lot of encouragement, Kai kept running. Well, for the most part.
The second time, it was harder to get him to keep going. I tried to use the clock as a motivator with limited success.
I know that many resolutions are broken within a few weeks. This one will be a challenge to maintain, not so much because of my own willpower, which remains strong, but because I must find a way to instill the same willpower in my son.
I realize that the key will be to either make the runs fun for him, or to provide some type of motivation for him to want to do it.
Wish me luck.