When you’ve met someone with autism, you’ve met one person with autism. That statement also holds true for every individual’s genetic make-up. No two people have the exact same gene variants in their DNA, so different behavior and mood medications for autism will perform better or worse, depending on each individual’s ability to respond to prescription drugs. At least that’s the thinking behind OnlyYOU Autism, an innovative saliva DNA PGx test that provides detailed, personalized and (supposedly) simple results on how each person with autism responds to each of the top 20 prescribed behavioral medications used to treat behavioral symptoms of autism. Additionally, OnlyYOU Autism also provides feedback on 416 of the most commonly prescribed medications for comorbid medical conditions prevalent with autism, such as intestinal problems, anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder.
Most autism parents must rely on the advice of pharmacologists and psychiatrists to prescribe drugs for their children. My experience over the course of my daughter’s life is that all the mood and behavior medications are trial and error. Sometimes a school will insist on a child trying a certain medication in order to control disruptive behavior. After my daughter was kicked out of one special ed school, the next school asked us to try Risperdal. Unfortunately, no other school or drug options were available to us at the time. While Samantha became somewhat easier to manage—to the point of sleepiness—she also suffered from weight gain, a common side effect.
Lately I’ve been very discouraged by the lack of effectiveness of Samantha’s current drug regimen. Although my daughter takes Clonazepam for anxiety, she seems more anxious and volatile than ever. Levothyroxine is supposed to help speed up a slow metabolism, but her weight is more up than down. My daughter’s metabolism was fine before she went on Risperdal and Abilify, commonly prescribed medications for autism which cause significant weight gain. These drugs calmed her, improved her behavior and self-control, but unfortunately, they also turned her into a quiet, well-behaved zombie who’d lost most of her sparkle. Slowly, I weaned my daughter off both of those medications, hoping her metabolism would improve even if her behavior worsened. Sadly, the weight problems remained and severe anxiety and self-control problems returned. (But at least she got her the sparkle back!) These days Samantha also takes Metformin and Tenuate for appetite control. Neither of those medications appear to be helping. Possibly all of these drugs interact negatively. Or maybe all of these meds stop working after a while?
Is it sheer coincidence that OnlyYou Autism was launched this week? Travis Parr, with a background in biotechnology and a desire to help people with autism reached out to me on What kind of Messenger. How did he find me? Apparently, my blogs on autism led him to seek me out. Travis and I spoke at length about his saliva test. While he was convincing me of the benefits of OnlyYou Autism, I suggested that he might want to employ my daughter in an advertisement. After all, Samantha has already participated in an ad for the SPARKS Autism Awareness Project, another saliva test being used to determine the genetic causes of autism.
Is OnlyYOU Autism really going to provide me with useful information? I don’t want to spend $299 on a saliva test to learn what I already know from trial and error: that the drugs Samantha has taken in the past are minimally effective or will cause her to gain weight. What I want to know is whether there will be ANY drugs among the 20 commonly prescribed medications for autism—or even the additional 416 prescribed for comorbid conditions—that will actually help Samantha without negative side effects.
Many people take advantage of the desperation of autism parents. I do not want to be that parent, nor do I wish to endorse a test or product on my blog that my daughter has not tried.I’m guessing that OnlyYOU Autism could save time and heartache for parents of kids who are just starting to think about using medications. Since the test is new, maybe there will be a few wrinkles that need to be ironed out over time.
The $299 question is whether I’ll order OnlyYOU Autism for Samantha. Probably I will. Travis Parr promised a $25 discount to a non-profit organization. He agreed to send a $25 check to EPIC Players if I order the test.
I’ll be reporting back. Stay tuned.