Sunday, November 6, 2011
Medications and Special Needs - It's Your Choice
this link after November 15 for a lot of of different perspectives on the same topic by other writers associated with Special Needs.
If you're new to the world of special needs, you'll quickly become acquianted with a list of "hot topics" ranging from debate about the use of jigsaw logos, to the words aspie, aspergian, autie and others. Of course, the biggest debate of all has always been - should we or shouldn't we medicate our children?
It's a good question and there's no easy answer.
You really can't discuss this topic without talking about protest groups. There are protest groups everywhere and they all have different motivations. Some of them are against any kind of medication - including aspirin, some are based on "knee-jerk" reactions to incorrect research and some are simply reacting to "bad events" or bad press.
Of course, there are some good protest groups around too but they're usually drowned out by their noisier counterparts.
Most of the protest groups have ulterior motivations. They're often less concerned with children than with their own profits, sensationalism and beliefs. You need to be very wary of their influence. If you're reading an article and it seems particularly biased against medications, check carefully to see whether it's associated with a protest group before you trust its contents.
Protest groups are also responsible for "programming" friends and relatives to go on the attack against parents who have legitimately been prescribed medications for their children. You have to watch their sources too because as soon as an anti-medications show airs on a current affairs channel, they'll be on your back again.
It might sound strange to suggest that there are actually groups out there who are "pro medication". After all, who wants to medicate children unless it's necessary? Drug companies, that's who. Unfortunately, in many countries, drug companies provide incentives for doctors to prescribe their medications to children on a long-term basis. It's in their interest to get people hooked on their product from an early age.
Sadly, there's no easy way to identify these practitioners for sure; but probably the best clue is when your doctor is constantly recommending that you try one medication after another instead of suggesting therapy and classes. For example, if your child has anger issues, it's perfectly feasible that medication could be the only answer but unless you've given the alternatives, coaching for instance, a go, you'll never know.
Medication should be one of the last resorts, with only surgery being perhaps worse.
The point is that not all medication is good for you but equally, not all medication is bad for you. As parents, you have to make the choice based on the available information - which is unfortunately, biased regardless of its source - and subject to change in the future.
Your best bet is, if possible, to talk to other parents who have children on and off medication and observe the differences between the children. Note that all children will react differently and although a medication works for one child, it may not work for another.
Find out from your doctor how long it should take before you start seeing effects and stick to the timetable. If the medication appears to have no effect, discontinue.
The other thing to remember is that it's your choice every day. You don't simply make the choice once and forget because you need to continually review the use of medication as your child gets older, as alternatives come on the market and as more research which could highlight the negatives of your current medications becomes available.
Keep an open mind but at the same time, keep a good eye out for safety and common sense.