Hey Denis, what's up? I read your article the other day. At first, I wanted to rip you into shreds, tell you what I was REALLY feeling. It reminded me alot of this little gem you wrote a couple of years back when you were promoting your book, "Why We Suck..."
"There is a huge boom in autism right now because inattentive mothers and competitive dads want an explanation for why their dumb-ass kids can't compete academically, so they throw money into the happy laps of shrinks . . . to get back diagnoses that help explain away the deficiencies of their junior morons. I don't give a [bleep] what these crackerjack whack jobs tell you - yer kid is NOT autistic. He's just stupid. Or lazy. Or both."
Do you remember that? I do. I was pretty pissed off. So was most of the Autism Community. But now, I don't want to trash you. I want to help you. Help you understand what we go through when we choose to put our children on medication.
1. We do not force our children to take medication that is unnecessary (i.e. to make them quiet, catatonic, etc.) for their specific needs.
2. We ask many, many questions about the class of drug it is, what it may do to help our children and any and all side effects.
3. We balance this information with taking into consideration about what our child may be struggling with, how this medication will affect their lives (and his/her families' lives) and weigh all the pros and the cons.
4. We attempt any and all medication with caution, taking note of how it affects the child in any way, shape or form. We keep in constant communication with the prescribing doctor. We note changes in mood, demeanor, school performance, social skills, communication, personal hygeiene (weight gain, rash, etc) and relay this back to the prescribing doctor and therapist.
5. We meet with the prescribing doctor frequently during the induction of a new med, making sure that the goals and benefits we hope to gain on putting the child on the script outweigh the side effects.
6. If things go well, the child responds well to the new medication with little to no side effects and can continue on as prescribed.
7. If things do not go well, the child is brought in and all side effects are reviewed and potential new courses of action are plotted out.
Denis, this is not a take two and call me in the morning situation. This is a serious life long path we tread. It took me almost 7 years to put my son on any medication. At 3 years old, a pediatric neurologist wanted to put my son on a tranquilizer type drug to "help him with his speech delay" and I said NO. I did not want to medicate him unnecessarily unless his quality of life was starting to be affected.
And it did.
I did not take this lightly. I did not jump in whole hog and said, "Hey! Now my kid is all drugged up and I can relax!" I am very involved in every step of his medicated life, which has helped him tremendously in school and in social situations. I did not want him to be doped up, because he still needs to be able to function. I am very fortunate that he does respond so well to the two scripts he is on. If he did not, then he would not be on them, period. I know some parents do not have that luxury and are still trying to find the right combination for their children.
This is not a miracle cure. This helps their brains function. They are not lazy. They are not stupid. They need just that little bit of assistance. And there is nothing wrong with that. If it was up to you, you'd relegate all these kids to the SPED dungeon in days of old. We've evolved since then.
So, Denis, please, on behalf of Autism Nation, try to learn why we some of us do medicate our children. Try to understand we don't do it to keep them quiet, but to help them thrive and share their voices with the world.
I'd be happy to show you. C'mon. It's easy. I know you're from Worcester. I'm from MA myself. Just ping me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading.