–Meet The Author–

Rob Gorski


Welcome to The Autism Dad Blog

You may have arrived here expecting to find Lost and Tired. No worries because you’re in the right place. The Autism Dad Blog is the continuing story of the Lost and Tired family.

Please make yourself at home and enjoy your stay.

I welcome and even encourage your feedback. I think that discussion is a great way to help raise awareness. :-)

Important Notice
Please know that while this site exists to provide support and education, it's also helps me provide for my family while being a single parent and 24/7 caregiver to my 3 kids with special needs. You can help support both this site and my family by checking out my sponsors when you come to this site, sharing the posts you like on your social media networks and engaging in conversations via the comments at the end of each post or page. For more information on how you can help. Click the button. :-)

Specific Challenges Facing My Family


What is Autism

Via The Mayo Clinic

Autism spectrum disorder is a serious neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs a child’s ability to communicate and interact with others. It also includes restricted repetitive behaviors, interests and activities. These issues cause significant impairment in social, occupational and other areas of functioning.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is now defined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a single disorder that includes disorders that were previously considered separate — autism, Asperger’s syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified.

The term “spectrum” in autism spectrum disorder refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity. Although the term “Asperger’s syndrome” is no longer in the DSM, some people still use the term, which is generally thought to be at the mild end of autism spectrum disorder.

The number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder is rising. It’s not clear whether this is due to better detection and reporting or a real increase in the number of cases, or both.

While there is no cure for autism spectrum disorder, intensive, early treatment can make a big difference in the lives of many children.



Autism spectrum disorder impacts how a child perceives and socializes with others, causing problems in crucial areas of development — social interaction, communication and behavior.

Some children show signs of ASD in early infancy. Other children may develop normally for the first few months or years of life, but then suddenly become withdrawn or aggressive or lose language skills they’ve already acquired.

Each child with ASD is likely to have a unique pattern of behavior and level of severity — from low functioning to high functioning. Severity is based on social communication impairments and the restrictive and repetitive nature of behaviors, along with how these impact the ability to function.

Because of the unique mixture of symptoms shown in each child, severity level can sometimes be difficult to determine. However, within the range (spectrum) of symptoms, below are some common ASD actions and behaviors.

Social communication and interaction

  • Fails to respond to his or her name or appears not to hear you at times
  • Resists cuddling and holding and seems to prefer playing alone — retreats into his or her own world
  • Has poor eye contact and lacks facial expression
  • Doesn’t speak or has delayed speech, or may lose previous ability to say words or sentences
  • Can’t start a conversation or keep one going, or may only start a conversation to make requests or label items
  • Speaks with an abnormal tone or rhythm — may use a singsong voice or robot-like speech
  • May repeat words or phrases verbatim, but doesn’t understand how to use them
  • Doesn’t appear to understand simple questions or directions
  • Doesn’t express emotions or feelings and appears unaware of others’ feelings
  • Doesn’t point at or bring objects to share interest
  • Inappropriately approaches a social interaction by being passive, aggressive or disruptive

Patterns of behavior

  • Performs repetitive movements, such as rocking, spinning or hand-flapping, or may perform activities that could cause harm, such as head-banging
  • Develops specific routines or rituals and becomes disturbed at the slightest change
  • Moves constantly
  • May be uncooperative or resistant to change
  • Has problems with coordination or has odd movement patterns, such as clumsiness or walking on toes, and has odd, stiff or exaggerated body language
  • May be fascinated by details of an object, such as the spinning wheels of a toy car, but doesn’t understand the “big picture” of the subject
  • May be unusually sensitive to light, sound and touch, and yet oblivious to pain
  • Does not engage in imitative or make-believe play
  • May become fixated on an object or activity with abnormal intensity or focus
  • May have odd food preferences, such as eating only a few foods, or eating only foods with a certain texture

Most children with ASD are slow to gain knowledge or skills, and some have signs of lower than normal intelligence. Other children with ASD have normal to high intelligence — they learn quickly, yet have trouble communicating and applying what they know in everyday life and adjusting to social situations. A small number of children with ASD are savants — they have exceptional skills in a specific area, such as art, math or music.

As they mature, some children with ASD become more engaged with others and show fewer disturbances in behavior. Some, usually those with the least severe problems, eventually may lead normal or near-normal lives. Others, however, continue to have difficulty with language or social skills, and the teen years can bring worse behavioral problems.

When to see a doctor

Babies develop at their own pace, and many don’t follow exact timelines found in some parenting books. But children with autism spectrum disorder usually show some signs of delayed development within the first year.

If you suspect that your child may have ASD, discuss your concerns with your doctor. The symptoms associated with ASD can also be linked with other developmental disorders. The earlier that treatment begins, the more effective it will be.

Your doctor may recommend developmental tests to identify if your child has delays in cognitive, language and social skills, if your child:

  • Doesn’t respond with a smile or happy expression by 6 months
  • Doesn’t mimic sounds or facial expressions by 9 months
  • Doesn’t babble or coo by 12 months
  • Doesn’t gesture — such as point or wave — by 14 months
  • Doesn’t say single words by 16 months
  • Doesn’t play “make-believe” or pretend by 18 months
  • Doesn’t say two-word phrases by 24 months
  • Loses previously acquired language or social skills at any age



Autism spectrum disorder has no single known cause. Given the complexity of the disorder, and the fact that symptoms and severity vary, there are probably many causes. Both genetics and environment may play a role.

  • Genetic problems. Several different genes appear to be involved in autism spectrum disorder. For some children, autism spectrum disorder can be associated with a genetic disorder, such as Rett syndrome or fragile X syndrome. For others, genetic changes may make a child more susceptible to autism spectrum disorder or create environmental risk factors. Still other genes may affect brain development or the way that brain cells communicate, or they may determine the severity of symptoms. Some genetic problems seem to be inherited, while others happen spontaneously.
  • Environmental factors. Researchers are currently exploring whether such factors as viral infections, complications during pregnancy or air pollutants play a role in triggering autism spectrum disorder.

No link between vaccines and ASD

One of the greatest controversies in autism spectrum disorder is centered on whether a link exists between ASD and certain childhood vaccines, particularly the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. Despite extensive research, no reliable study has shown a link between ASD and the MMR vaccine.

Avoiding childhood vaccinations can place your child in danger of catching and spreading serious diseases, including whooping cough (pertussis), measles or mumps.

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder

Courtesy of Mayo Clinic


Childhood disintegrative disorder is also known as Heller’s syndrome. It’s a very rare condition in which children develop normally until at least two years of age, but then demonstrate a severe loss of social, communication and other skills.

Childhood disintegrative disorder is part of a larger category called autism spectrum disorder. However, unlike autism, someone with childhood disintegrative disorder shows severe regression after several years of normal development and a more dramatic loss of skills than a child with autism does. In addition, childhood disintegrative disorder can develop later than autism does.

Treatment for childhood disintegrative disorder involves a combination of medications, behavior therapy and other approaches.




Children with childhood disintegrative disorder typically show a dramatic loss of previously acquired skills in two or more of the following areas:

  • Language, including a severe decline in the ability to speak and have a conversation
  • Social skills, including significant difficulty relating to and interacting with others
  • Play, including a loss of interest in imaginary play and in a variety of games and activities
  • Motor skills, including a dramatic decline in the ability to walk, climb, grasp objects and perform other movements
  • Bowel or bladder control, including frequent accidents in a child who was previously toilet trained

Loss of developmental milestones may occur abruptly over the course of days to weeks or gradually over an extended period of time.

When to see a doctor
Children typically develop at their own pace, but any loss of developmental milestones is cause for concern. If your child has suddenly lost previously acquired language, social, motor, play, thinking (cognitive) or self-help skills, such as toilet training and feeding, contact your doctor. In addition, if you suspect that your child has gradually shown a loss in any area of development, talk with your doctor.




The cause of childhood disintegrative disorder is not known. There is not enough research on this rare disorder to determine a cause.

Schizoaffective Disorder

Courtesy of Mayo Clinic


Schizoaffective disorder is a condition in which a person experiences a combination of schizophrenia symptoms — such as hallucinations or delusions — and mood disorder symptoms, such as mania or depression.

Schizoaffective disorder is not as well understood or well defined as other mental health conditions. This is largely because schizoaffective disorder is a mix of mental health conditions ― including schizophrenic and mood disorder features ― that may run a unique course in each affected person.

Untreated, people with schizoaffective disorder may lead lonely lives and have trouble holding down a job or attending school. Or, they may rely heavily on family or live in supported living environments, such as group homes. Treatment can help manage symptoms and improve the quality of life for people with schizoaffective disorder.



Schizoaffective disorder symptoms vary from person to person. People who have the condition experience psychotic symptoms — such as hallucinations or delusions — as well as a mood disorder. The mood disorder is either bipolar disorder (bipolar-type schizoaffective disorder) or depression (depressive-type schizoaffective disorder).

Psychotic features and mood disturbances may occur at the same time or may appear on and off interchangeably. The course of schizoaffective disorder usually features cycles of severe symptoms followed by a period of improvement, with less severe symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of schizoaffective disorder may include, among others:

  • Delusions — having false, fixed beliefs
  • Hallucinations, such as hearing voices
  • Major depressed mood episodes
  • Possible periods of manic mood or a sudden increase in energy and behavioral displays that are out of character
  • Impaired occupational and social functioning
  • Problems with cleanliness and physical appearance
  • Paranoid thoughts and ideas

When to see a doctor

If you think someone you know may have schizoaffective disorder symptoms, talk to that person about your concerns. Although you can’t force someone to seek professional help, you can offer encouragement and support and help your loved one find a qualified doctor or mental health provider.

Suicidal thoughts or behavior

Expression of suicidal thoughts or behavior may occur in someone with schizoaffective disorder. If you have a loved one who is in danger of committing suicide or has made a suicide attempt, make sure someone stays with that person. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Or, if you think you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room.



The exact cause of schizoaffective disorder is not known. A combination of factors may contribute to its development, such as:

  • Genetic links
  • Brain chemistry
  • Brain development delays or variations
  • Exposure in the womb to toxins or viral illness, or even birth complications

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Courtesy of Mayo Clinic



It’s normal to feel anxious from time to time, especially if your life is stressful. However, excessive, ongoing anxiety and worry that interfere with day-to-day activities may be a sign of generalized anxiety disorder.

It’s possible to develop generalized anxiety disorder as a child or an adult. Generalized anxiety disorder has symptoms that are similar to panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other types of anxiety, but they’re all different conditions.

Living with generalized anxiety disorder can be a long-term challenge. In many cases, it occurs along with other anxiety or mood disorders. In most cases, generalized anxiety disorder improves with medications or talk therapy (psychotherapy). Making lifestyle changes, learning coping skills and using relaxation techniques also can help.




Generalized anxiety disorder symptoms can vary. They may include:

  • Persistent worrying or obsession about small or large concerns that’s out of proportion to the impact of the event
  • Inability to set aside or let go of a worry
  • Inability to relax, restlessness, and feeling keyed up or on edge
  • Difficulty concentrating, or the feeling that your mind “goes blank”
  • Worrying about excessively worrying
  • Distress about making decisions for fear of making the wrong decision
  • Carrying every option in a situation all the way out to its possible negative conclusion
  • Difficulty handling uncertainty or indecisiveness

Physical signs and symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension or muscle aches
  • Trembling, feeling twitchy
  • Being easily startled
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sweating
  • Nausea, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome
  • Headaches

There may be times when your worries don’t completely consume you, but you still feel anxious even when there’s no apparent reason. For example, you may feel intense worry about your safety or that of your loved ones, or you may have a general sense that something bad is about to happen.

Your anxiety, worry or physical symptoms cause you significant distress in social, work or other areas of your life. Worries can shift from one concern to another and may change with time and age.

Symptoms in children and teenagers

In addition to the symptoms above, children and teenagers who have generalized anxiety disorder may have excessive worries about:

  • Performance at school or sporting events
  • Being on time (punctuality)
  • Earthquakes, nuclear war or other catastrophic events

A child or teen with generalized anxiety disorder may also:

  • Feel overly anxious to fit in
  • Be a perfectionist
  • Redo tasks because they aren’t perfect the first time
  • Spend excessive time doing homework
  • Lack confidence
  • Strive for approval
  • Require a lot of reassurance about performance

When to see a doctor

Some anxiety is normal, but see your doctor if:

  • You feel like you’re worrying too much, and it’s interfering with your work, relationships or other parts of your life
  • You feel depressed, have trouble with drinking or drugs, or you have other mental health concerns along with anxiety
  • You have suicidal thoughts or behaviors — seek emergency treatment immediately

Your worries are unlikely to simply go away on their own, and they may actually get worse over time. Try to seek professional help before your anxiety becomes severe — it may be easier to treat early on.

As with many mental health conditions, the exact cause of generalized anxiety disorder isn’t fully understood, but it may include genetics as well as other risk factors

Marked Autonomic Dysfunction

Gavin has an extremely rare and life threatening form of Autonomic dysfunction. There is no real definition for what Gavin has and his specialists at the Cleveland Clinic frequently state that there has never been a child to come through the doors of the Cleveland Clinic and there are only a handful of documented cases like him worldwide.

Essentially, Gavin’s brain no longer controls certain aspects of his body properly. He does not properly regulate the following:

  • Body temperature
  • Blood pressure
  • Heart Rate

Gavin’s also physiologically incapable of sweating. That’s actually a thing and there is a test for it. He’s most vulnerable to a crisis, immediately follow a meal and anytime he’s in a moving vehicle. This has to do with maintaining his blood volume.

What sets Gavin apart from others with autonomic dysfunction such as POTS is the fact that he experiences what we call autonomic crises. 

These crises have no known cause or trigger and can appear at any time and for any reason. There is no treatment aside from supportive care and every crisis is life threatening.

In Gavin’s case, he’s been hospitalized countless times since this began and has come very close to losing his life at least once.

Basically, his body just sorta shuts down. He blood pressure crashes and his heart rate skyrockets in order to compensate. He can become unresponsive or extremely disoriented. The worst crisis saw him admitted to Akron Children’s Hospital for the better part of a week.

He was unable to speak, walk or even eat. There was a notable difference in the temperature on the left side of his body vs the right side of his body. There was even loss of bladder control.

The only way I can tell a major crisis is beginning is that he develops a transient rash the moves across his entire body and it a really strange twist, he will begin to excessively sweat. Despite being incapable of sweating normally, he does sweat during a crisis. That remains unexplained.

Common variable immunodeficiency

Courtesy of Mayo Clinic


Common variable immunodeficiency (CVID) is an immune system disorder in which you have low levels of several of the proteins (antibodies) that help you fight infections. CVID leaves you open to recurrent infections in your ears, sinuses and respiratory system, and increases your risk of digestive disorders, blood disorders and cancer.

Signs and symptoms of common variable immunodeficiency may appear during childhood or adolescence, though most people don’t experience them until adulthood. The condition can be inherited, or it can be acquired during your lifetime.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Courtesy of Mayo Clinic



Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition that affects millions of children and often persists into adulthood. ADHD includes a combination of problems, such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior.

Children with ADHD also may struggle with low self-esteem, troubled relationships and poor performance in school. Symptoms sometimes lessen with age. However, some people never completely outgrow their ADHD symptoms. But they can learn strategies to be successful.

While treatment won’t cure ADHD, it can help a great deal with symptoms. Treatment typically involves medications and behavioral interventions. Early diagnosis and treatment can make a big difference in outcome.



Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been called attention-deficit disorder (ADD) in the past. But ADHD is now the preferred term because it describes both of the primary features of this condition: inattention and hyperactive-impulsive behavior. In some children, signs of ADHD are noticeable as early as 2 or 3 years of age.

Signs and symptoms of ADHD may include:

  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Frequently daydreaming
  • Difficulty following through on instructions and apparently not listening
  • Frequently has problems organizing tasks or activities
  • Frequently forgetful and loses needed items, such as books, pencils or toys
  • Frequently fails to finish schoolwork, chores or other tasks
  • Easily distracted
  • Frequently fidgets or squirms
  • Difficulty remaining seated and seemly in constant motion
  • Excessively talkative
  • Frequently interrupts or intrudes on others’ conversations or games
  • Frequently has trouble waiting for his or her turn

ADHD occurs more often in males than in females, and behaviors can be different in boys and girls. For example, boys may be more hyperactive and girls may tend to be quietly inattentive.

Normal behavior vs. ADHD

Most healthy children are inattentive, hyperactive or impulsive at one time or another. It’s normal for preschoolers to have short attention spans and be unable to stick with one activity for long. Even in older children and teenagers, attention span often depends on the level of interest.

The same is true of hyperactivity. Young children are naturally energetic — they often wear their parents out long before they’re tired. In addition, some children just naturally have a higher activity level than others do. Children should never be classified as having ADHD just because they’re different from their friends or siblings.

Children who have problems in school but get along well at home or with friends are likely struggling with something other than ADHD. The same is true of children who are hyperactive or inattentive at home, but whose schoolwork and friendships remain unaffected.

When to see a doctor

If you’re concerned that your child shows signs of ADHD, see your pediatrician or family doctor. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist, but it’s important to have a medical evaluation first to check for other possible causes of your child’s difficulties.

If your child is already being treated for ADHD, he or she should see the doctor regularly until symptoms have largely improved, and then every three to four months if symptoms are stable. Call the doctor if your child has any medication side effects, such as loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, increased irritability, or if your child’s ADHD has not shown much improvement with initial treatment.



While the exact cause of ADHD is not clear, research efforts continue.

Multiple factors have been implicated in the development of ADHD. It can run in families, and studies indicate that genes may play a role. Certain environmental factors also may increase risk, as can problems with the central nervous system at key moments in development.

Bipolar Disorder

Courtesy of Mayo Clinic


Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). When you become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts in the other direction, you may feel euphoric and full of energy. Mood shifts may occur only a few times a year or as often as several times a week.

Although bipolar disorder is a disruptive, long-term condition, you can keep your moods in check by following a treatment plan. In most cases, bipolar disorder can be controlled with medications and psychological counseling (psychotherapy).



There are several types of bipolar and related disorders. For each type, the exact symptoms of bipolar disorder can vary from person to person. Bipolar I and bipolar II disorders also have additional specific features that can be added to the diagnosis based on your particular signs and symptoms.

Criteria for bipolar disorder

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, lists criteria for diagnosing bipolar and related disorders. This manual is used by mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.

Diagnostic criteria for bipolar and related disorders are based on the specific type of disorder:

  • Bipolar I disorder. You’ve had at least one manic episode. The manic episode may be preceded by or followed by hypomanic or major depressive episodes. Mania symptoms cause significant impairment in your life and may require hospitalization or trigger a break from reality (psychosis).
  • Bipolar II disorder. You’ve had at least one major depressive episode lasting at least two weeks and at least one hypomanic episode lasting at least four days, but you’ve never had a manic episode. Major depressive episodes or the unpredictable changes in mood and behavior can cause distress or difficulty in areas of your life.
  • Cyclothymic disorder. You’ve had at least two years — or one year in children and teenagers — of numerous periods of hypomania symptoms (less severe than a hypomanic episode) and periods of depressive symptoms (less severe than a major depressive episode). During that time, symptoms occur at least half the time and never go away for more than two months. Symptoms cause significant distress in important areas of your life.
  • Other types. These include, for example, bipolar and related disorder due to another medical condition, such as Cushing’s disease, multiple sclerosis or stroke. Another type is called substance and medication-induced bipolar and related disorder.

Bipolar II disorder is not a milder form of bipolar I disorder, but a separate diagnosis. While the manic episodes of bipolar I disorder can be severe and dangerous, individuals with bipolar II disorder can be depressed for longer periods, which can cause significant impairment.

Criteria for a manic or hypomanic episode

The DSM-5 has specific criteria for the diagnosis of manic and hypomanic episodes:

  • A manic episode is a distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive or irritable mood that lasts at least one week (or less than a week if hospitalization is necessary). The episode includes persistently increased goal-directed activity or energy.
  • A hypomanic episode is a distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive or irritable mood that lasts at least four consecutive days.

For both a manic and a hypomanic episode, during the period of disturbed mood and increased energy, three or more of the following symptoms (four if the mood is only irritable) must be present and represent a noticeable change from your usual behavior:

  • Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
  • Decreased need for sleep (for example, you feel rested after only three hours of sleep)
  • Unusual talkativeness
  • Racing thoughts
  • Distractibility
  • Increased goal-directed activity (either socially, at work or school, or sexually) or agitation
  • Doing things that are unusual and that have a high potential for painful consequences — for example, unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions or foolish business investments

To be considered a manic episode:

  • The mood disturbance must be severe enough to cause noticeable difficulty at work, at school or in social activities or relationships; or to require hospitalization to prevent harm to yourself or others; or to trigger a break from reality (psychosis).
  • Symptoms are not due to the direct effects of something else, such as alcohol or drug use; a medication; or a medical condition.

To be considered a hypomanic episode:

  • The episode is a distinct change in mood and functioning that is not characteristic of you when the symptoms are not present, and enough of a change that other people notice.
  • The episode isn’t severe enough to cause significant difficulty at work, at school or in social activities or relationships, and it doesn’t require hospitalization or trigger a break from reality.
  • Symptoms are not due to the direct effects of something else, such as alcohol or drug use; a medication; or a medical condition.

Criteria for a major depressive episode

The DSM-5 also lists criteria for diagnosis of a major depressive episode:

  • Five or more of the symptoms below over a two-week period that represent a change from previous mood and functioning. At least one of the symptoms is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure.
  • Symptoms can be based on your own feelings or on the observations of someone else.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, such as feeling sad, empty, hopeless or tearful (in children and teens, depressed mood can appear as irritability)
  • Markedly reduced interest or feeling no pleasure in all — or almost all — activities most of the day, nearly every day
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting, weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day (in children, failure to gain weight as expected can be a sign of depression)
  • Either insomnia or sleeping excessively nearly every day
  • Either restlessness or slowed behavior that can be observed by others
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt, such as believing things that are not true, nearly every day
  • Decreased ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide planning or attempt

To be considered a major depressive episode:

  • Symptoms must be severe enough to cause noticeable difficulty in day-to-day activities, such as work, school, social activities or relationships
  • Symptoms are not due to the direct effects of something else, such as alcohol or drug use, a medication or a medical condition
  • Symptoms are not caused by grieving, such as after the loss of a loved one

Other signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder

Signs and symptoms of bipolar I and bipolar II disorders may include additional features.

  • Anxious distress — having anxiety, such as feeling keyed up, tense or restless, having trouble concentrating because of worry, fearing something awful may happen, or feeling you may not be able to control yourself
  • Mixed features — meeting the criteria for a manic or hypomanic episode, but also having some or all symptoms of major depressive episode at the same time
  • Melancholic features — having a loss of pleasure in all or most activities and not feeling significantly better, even when something good happens
  • Atypical features — experiencing symptoms that are not typical of a major depressive episode, such as having a significantly improved mood when something good happens
  • Catatonia — not reacting to your environment, holding your body in an unusual position, not speaking, or mimicking another person’s speech or movement
  • Peripartum onset — bipolar disorder symptoms that occur during pregnancy or in the four weeks after delivery
  • Seasonal pattern — a lifetime pattern of manic, hypomanic or major depressive episodes that change with the seasons
  • Rapid cycling — having four or more mood swing episodes within a single year, with full or partial remission of symptoms in between manic, hypomanic or major depressive episodes
  • Psychosis — severe episode of either mania or depression (but not hypomania) that results in a detachment from reality and includes symptoms of false but strongly held beliefs (delusions) and hearing or seeing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)

Symptoms in children and teens

The same DSM-5 criteria used to diagnose bipolar disorder in adults are used to diagnose children and teenagers. Children and teens may have distinct major depressive, manic or hypomanic episodes, between which they return to their usual behavior, but that’s not always the case. And moods can rapidly shift during acute episodes.

Symptoms of bipolar disorder can be difficult to identify in children and teens. It’s often hard to tell whether these are normal ups and downs, the results of stress or trauma, or signs of a mental health problem other than bipolar disorder. And children who have bipolar disorder are frequently also diagnosed with other mental health conditions.

The most prominent signs of bipolar disorder in children and teenagers may include severe mood swings that are different from their usual mood swings.

When to see a doctor

If you have any symptoms of depression or mania, see your doctor or mental health provider. Bipolar disorder doesn’t get better on its own. Getting treatment from a mental health provider with experience in bipolar disorder can help you get your symptoms under control.

Many people with bipolar disorder don’t get the treatment they need. Despite the mood extremes, people with bipolar disorder often don’t recognize how much their emotional instability disrupts their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

And if you’re like some people with bipolar disorder, you may enjoy the feelings of euphoria and cycles of being more productive. However, this euphoria is always followed by an emotional crash that can leave you depressed, worn out — and perhaps in financial, legal or relationship trouble.

If you’re reluctant to seek treatment, confide in a friend or loved one, a health care professional, a faith leader or someone else you trust. He or she may be able to help you take the first steps to successful treatment.

When to get emergency help

Suicidal thoughts and behavior are common among people with bipolar disorder. If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

Also consider these options:

  • Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
  • Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone in your faith community.
  • Call a suicide hotline number — in the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor. Use that same number and press 1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.
  • Make an appointment with your doctor, mental health provider or other health care provider.

If you have a loved one who is in danger of committing suicide or has made a suicide attempt, make sure someone stays with that person. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Or, if you think you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room.

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  • Daniel

    Great work bringing awareness to the specific challenges your family faces.

  • J Todd McKay

    I have really been enjoying all of the recent candid photos of you and the boys, just enjoying life. Really nice to see all the smiles, even though this life isn’t perfect for you all, those moments make it all worth it and will be great to look back on one day. :-)

  • Spike Gold

    NeuroTribes by Steven Silberman really opened up my eyes thinking about autism. Knowing what I know now it makes me appreciate your work –and that of everyone else– spreading awareness about autism even more. Keep it up!

    PS: Thanks for the chance!

  • Jared Tanner

    This is my first time visiting your website, I read one of your blog posts and it was sad to hear that your wife doesn’t spend much time with your children. They seem like great kids judging by the photos. :)
    If my mother walked out on our family when I was a child, I would be heartbroken.
    Anyways, Keep up the good work on the website, sharing stories and spreading awareness.

  • Jimmy Tankersley

    Amazing job, I always look forward to reading your next post. Keep posting and educating. As a father of 2 autistic boys, the info and subjects you talk about truly touch home.

  • Jason Stewart

    I had a friend who was autistic back when I was in elementary school, he used to get bullied a lot in school a lot by the other kids and I never understood why. We were friends up until high school then we sort of drifted apart, but we would usually chat for a bit during breaks. I remember he would tell me stories from long ago back when we were kids. Things that I completely forgot about.

  • http://www.theautismdad.com Rob Gorski

    Congratulations. Emmett has randomly selected you as the winner of the Halo: Master Chief Collection… Please send an email via the contact link at the top of this page and I’ll get you the code….

  • Light Bread ™

    I just watched a couple of your youtube videos. Bless you and your sons mister.