Autism/helmet & meds


QUESTION: grandson placed in foster care year ago over inadequate housing. Since that time he has wound up in a helmet and on concerta  & rydlin ( i believe they are the same) colnidine which is not recommended for his age and melatonin. During recent med eval helmet was off and clumps of skin and hair were coming off. have pictures. Visits are not consistent and he was not removed due to abuse or neglect...improper housing. Highly concerned that things are not being properly done. Desperately need advice. Thank you

ANSWER: Hi Jennifer,

This is a sad situation. From what you describe, my guess is that your grandson became distraught over the changes in his life and showed his distress through head-banging. His caregivers must have been concerned for his safety, so began using the helmet.

He must also have been showing sleep difficulties, hence the Melatonin and Clonidine. Concerta and Ritalin are medications often helpful to kids who are experiencing attentional difficulties.

You mention that he was missing clumps of skin and hair. Possibly the helmet was chafing, causing these problems, or he might have been picking, rubbing or gouging himself. Some kids on the autism spectrum do show self-injurious behavior, especially when upset.

When a child is removed from the care of his parents, his guardians (at least his temporary guardians) become the State's representatives through their social service agency. As his guardians, they can approve/disapprove medications and treatments.

In some jurisdictions, there is some recourse for extended family members to become "A Person of Sufficient Interest" or whatever terminology might be used in your region. This is a relative who knows the child, is interested and is willing to step in and care for the child either long-term or until the parents are again in a position to do so. If you are worried about this little boy's well-being, you could contact the agency to see if there is any provision for you to be involved or to voice your concerns.

I'm sorry to hear that family visits are inconsistent.

Hopefully, the current care-givers have some understanding of autism spectrum disorders and the approaches that might be calming to this little guy. Consistent expectations, reliable routines and a calm atmosphere will help as be becomes familiar with his new environment.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Helmet is never off unless bathing and while i understand chafing it makes me wonder why nothing has been implemented to help the situation. I currently have petitioned to get him. I have a 12 yr old with CP and not perfect but alot of experience. Is it truly safe to use the same compound of drug under 2 different names and 1 in which the child is under the age range for?
I am just concerned and when I ask them the answer is silence.
i do greatly appreciate the information you have supplied thus far.
thank you greatly

Hi Jennifer,

I had replied to your second question the day you sent it but I am not sure the system delivered it to you. In that reply, I had suggested that you keep talking to the supervisors and the person appointed as your grandson's temporary legal guardian. You could also ask to speak with the physician who is prescribing the medication.

How did your petition turn out?  


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Dr. Sharon A. Mitchell


Sharon can help with parenting and educational concerns. She has worked in teaching, special education, counseling and consulting for over thirty years and gives workshops to educators and parents on working with kids with autism spectrum disorders. Sharon speaks from both the education and parent points of view, having an adult son with Asperger's.


Sharon has spent decades as a special education consultant with a school district and autism consult for the province's Department of Education, giving workshops and individual consults. Currently she works as regional autism consultant for a health district in between teaching university classes. She is an Amazon bestselling author or a series of novels, each depicting a child who has an autism spectrum disorder. Sharon's Master's thesis looked at the long-term outlook for persons with high functioning autism and Asperger's. Her Doctorate focused on strategies to help those with autism spectrum disorders.

Website at and sits on Autism Today's Panel of Experts (

Author of "Autism Goes to School" - a novel about autism that that became an Amazon bestseller. Get this Amazon bestseller free at In the next book, Autism Runs Away, Ethan is only in grade one and already has been kicked out of one school due to his tantrums and pattern of running away when in a panic. Now in a new school his mom remains glued to her phone, waiting for the call to tell her that they don’t know what to do with a child who has autism. Sara is about to learn if this new school is up to the challenge. ( Autism Belongs is the 3rd book. Manny's life has shrank to the confines of their house. His parents are desperate not to rock his world because the aggression has gotten to much worse. Where will this lead? Is there a chance that Manny could actually belong out in the world? You bet! Get a free sample at Book four, Autism Talks and Talks, is about a 12 year old girl who has Asperger's. She's bright, inquisitive, highly verbal, but lacks social skills. Try a free sample at Book five, Autism Grows Up features Suzie, a bright, twenty-one year old whose life collapsed after she finished high school. Now, she lives in her mother's basement, spending nights on her computer, afraid to broach the world outside their door. Autism Grows Up is found at Prefer a boxed set? Get the first 3 books bundled together at Co-author of bestseller, The Official Autism 101 Manual (

B.A. in Psychology, B.Ed. in Special Education, M.A. in Educational Leadership PhD. in Psychology Management, specializing in autism.

Awards and Honors
B.R.A.G. Medallion for the novel Autism Goes to School - Book 1 in the School Daze Series. ( Like Autism Goes to School, the third book in the series, Autism Belongs, also ranked #1 on Amazon ( Manny is not like other children. He doesn’t talk. He doesn’t leave the house. His parents desperately try to arrange their world so that Manny does not get upset. Because, when he does, well, the aggression was getting worse. At ten, Manny was becoming difficult to handle.

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