To medicate or not? That is the new question of this generation. We are the parents of the generation with ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, OCD, Tourettes, and a multitude of other disorders that are diagnosed as we lay out thousands of dollars our insurance won’t cover. And most of the time, they don’t have the answers or will say something like “We really won’t know until they are 8 or 10 or 12 or 16….” So parents, do we medicate or not? Do we continue with behavioral therapy by itself praying that all of the positive rewards and star charts are going to make a difference? Or do we bite the bullet and add a few chemicals to the already chemically unbalanced child?
This is not an easy decision for any parent. We started our son on medicine at a very early age. He was too young to swallow a pill so we mashed it up and put it in chocolate pudding. Only later to find out it wasn’t supposed to be mashed. We had him on it for years and wondered why we didn’t see that much of a difference. We have been through an entire pharmacy shelf and about 6 different child psychiatrists trying to find the right medicine, the right cocktail. My husband and I have had major battles wondering if we should add more medicines, increase doses or take him off everything altogether. If you haven’t been in this situation, trust me, it is stressful. I now have to color my hair.
We ultimately decided to give our Aspergers/ OCD son a break from medicine. It wasn’t good. We saw an increase in behaviors, both obsessive and physical, and got way too many calls from school. School made it very clear that although they can’t tell us to medicate him, maybe we should see another psychiatrist? I agreed.
We made yet another appointment with another psychiatrist. I was not looking forward to this visit. How do you start at the very beginning with the 8+ years of medical/psych history? It would take weeks to tell her everything. Somehow, this psychiatrist simplified everything. She was the first one that said he needed to be on something for the OCD which would in turn, decrease the aggressive behaviors. She explained that the aggression was due to him getting “stuck” because of his OCD. So, we started him on an SSRI and an ADHD medication. This time, at the right dose and not mashed up in any dessert.
For the first time in 8 years, he is truly happy. I am not saying that medication is the answer to make all special needs children happy, but I am saying it is the answer for him. He isn’t getting stuck on electronics, or getting a perfect score and he isn’t throwing chairs across the room when he doesn’t get his way or he loses a game. My house is calmer now and my other children aren’t walking on eggshells. It has been a long journey and I am still holding my breath (we still have to get through puberty and growth spurts) but for now, I will take it.