By this time tomorrow, Roman will have had his first dose of the Buspirone…or not. He may very well be put in the placebo group. Knowing that this is a possibility, Eric and I are hoping that he gets the drug. Even if he is put on the placebo, in 24 weeks he will be offered the real stuff. For a total of 48 weeks, we are promising to give Roman medicine exactly every 12 hours. We have to keep a diary of every dose and note any side effects. Once a month, I will drive to Detroit from our home between Lansing and Grand Rapids, just over two hours away, to pick up his monthly supply of medicine and have Roman checked over by their doctor. Possible side effects of the Buspirone include dizziness and nausea, but nothing too serious. Still, I don’t want my baby to be dizzy or nauseous. Who would?
So why are we doing this? I have a friend who told me a story of a 7 year old boy who was non-verbal and still in diapers when he started the Buspirone. Within four months he was talking and toilet trained. The doctors at Children’s Hospital tell us that the younger a child is when he or she receives the drug, the better the chances are of a major positive outcome. In our case, the possible rewards outweigh the possible risks. Of course, if Roman suffers from any side effects that make us change our risk/reward equation, we would immediately pull him from the study, which we are allowed to do for any reason at any time. In previous studies of children taking buspirone, however, no major side effects were noted.
Buspirone works on serotonin synthesis, which autistic children are deficient in. There is only a short window of time, from about the age of two to about six, where the buspirone will be effective. Any changes, such as the acquisition of speech, are permanent. Roman will not have to stay on this drug forever to benefit from taking it.
So that’s it. We’ve been through the screening and intake process. All we need to do is see the doctor tomorrow for a few hours and we come home with a bottle of liquid gold. I’ll just keep praying it’s not the fool’s variety.