As many David’s Gift readers know, we chose not to go down the medication path with our son David. When he was first diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, we initially trialled medication believing that it was the magic ‘pill’ that was going to make all the challenges, tribulations and heartbreak go away.
Well, it didn’t.
Whilst in the early stages of the diagnosis, medication seemed to make a difference to him, making him more focused and helping him sit still in class, over time he became somebody we didn’t know. His personality changed and while it made him more compliant, the side effects – headaches, sleeplessness, lethargy, lack of appetite, was enough to signal warning bells for us.
After a while, whilst the medication made life easier for those around David, we knew it was not the right choice for him. If medication masked his emotions, took away his impulsiveness and made him not himself, then what was next? What happened when he became an adult and the decisions were his, not ours?
He would have to learn at some stage how to feel emotion and understand his frustration. He had to learn how to develop his own strategies some time, and surely it was better he do it when he was in our home and where he was safe and could experiment and learn when surrounded by love and the people who were there to support him.
If he didn’t learn how to manage his anger, his frustration or understand how to manage his own stress levels, but used medication instead…. what happened if he stopped taking it?
The use of mood altering drugs is so new, but in the last 10 years or so, the options now available are extraordinary. There have been no long term studies – and by long term I mean 20 year or more studies – on the effects of these drugs on our children. When David was first diagnosed in 1997, there were very few drugs of this type available – now there are many .
So what happens next? What happens when the drugs stop? What happens when one day a child, who has been taking medication all his life, suddenly stops, or the money runs out, or the drug is banned – or any one of a hundred other ramifications.
ASD is not an illness. It is an inability to understand the neuro-typical rules of life. The inability to know personal boundaries. The inability to navigate the social nuances and acceptable social norms, but they can be learned. Medication is not the answer – patience is; compassion is; unconditional love is; support is; understanding is; acceptance is.
I know, first hand as a parent, what it is like to feel stretched to the limit and overwhelmed; I know what it is like to be called up to the school day after day; I know what it is like to lie awake at night worrying what the next day will bring; I know what it is like… I have lived it.
But I also know that each decision that I make for my children has to be about their long term health and well being. Each and every decision I make for my children has to come from that place of wisdom, knowing that the decisions I make for my children today – have ramifications on their lives… for the rest of their lives.
Medication is a short term answer, with yet unknown long term outcomes.
A friend of mine recently sent me a link to the following site. If you are considering medication please watch this.