A word from Joy: To Medicate or not

This is one of the toughest decisions a parent has to make. Let me tell you why I was faced with this.

My name is Joy, I am the mother of two girls with ASD, aged 11 and 13. The older one copes well, all things considered, but the younger has a much tougher time.

She was very violent toward me from the age of two and there was just no way behavioural therapy was getting through to her. Her mind was so confused – this was the only way she had of expressing herself. I don’t promote medication, but let’s face it, a time comes when it’s the only option left. My daughter is no longer violent toward me and she has learnt great coping skills. BUT-the only way she was able to do that was to be put on haloperidol at the age of 3. A very dangerous sedative. She was sedated for a whole year in order for us to put new behaviours into place, which would have been impossible had she not been medicated. I was very worried at first about putting my 3 year old daughter on such a dangerous drug which has awful side effects, plus I had an emergency number to ring if there was any hint of a problem. Our quality of life had fallen through the floor and she was so unhappy that there really was no argument. Best thing we ever did. We were able to move on.

At age 8 problems arose for her again. Our daughter had changed from being bubbly and fun loving to an extremely anxious, very sad little girl. After consulting with her psychiatrist, we agreed that she needed medication again. But not until I challenged his opinion that it was part of her “condition” (his words). But surely this was a part of her “condition” that could be treated? He had to agree. This time it was Prozac. She started on half the adult dose and I could see an instant improvement in 24 hours! Eventually it appeared to have stopped working and I questioned that this was because she was growing at an alarming rate. Turned out my hunch was right! She was upped to the adult dose and quickly everything was hunky dory again.

She was weaned off Prozac by the beginning of September last, after being on it a couple of years. All is not right. The sad, anxious, little girl has emerged again. This poor little girl cannot learn in this state of mind. In fact, she has just had another speech and language assessment in which she appears to have gone backwards slightly. Luckily, I know the therapist well and we’ve had a long conversation about this and we have agreed that it is due to her anxiety. She has intervened now so we have an appointment with the psychiatrist on Monday. Will he advise medication again? I don’t know. Wonder what he’ll put it down to now? It should be an interesting meeting.

None of us want our kids doped up, but sometimes it’s the only option. Does it make us bad parents for choosing the medication route? In my opinion – NO. We want happy kids. We want to be happy. If it is the only way we can get our kids to be receptive to life education then I have no problem with it.

As I said, it is one of the toughest decions to be faced with – to give medication or not. But, in my case, it proved to be one of the best decisions of my life.


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