Autism: To Medicate or Not to Medicate? I don’t see the dilemma
April 25, 2013
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Now Reading: Autism: To Medicate or Not to Medicate? I don’t see the dilemma
April 25, 2013
(originally written & published on April 25, 2013)
People are always asking my opinion about medication. Whether I think ASD kids should be on medication, what kinds of medication we’ve tried with my son.
And there’s kinda a lot of controversy within the autism community about this topic… And I just don’t get it.
Yes, my kid in on medication. I’ve written about it before. He’s currently on 2 meds (Depakote & Onfi) because he starting having seizures in May 2012. But even before the seizures, he’s been on good ol’ Klonopin for aggression/ behavior issues since September 2011.
Now obviously you have seizures, you take meds, that’s a no brainer (but guess what, most seizure meds are also mood stabilizers so we are reaping some behavior benefits as well).
But the Klonopin? The med we are giving him to tweak his behavior? Did I feel guilty about giving him that med? Um, no. He was miserable before Klonopin.
I would say Klonopin was the first prescription med that we tried on Kyle that was specifically meant to curb problem behaviors. Before Klonopin, we did lots of the biomedical things for years including the GFCF diet with little or no success.
And then in the summer of 2011, we had what I like to call “The Summer of Rage” where Kyle was pretty much a raging maniac. He would go thru multiple stretches throughout the day where he would hit & try to bite others, would try to injure himself. He wasn’t eating. He was extremely skinny. He just looked miserable pretty much all the time. He looked like he wanted to crawl out of his own skin.
We ruled out lots of medical reasons for this behavior. It was chalked up to just that, a behavior. He was just a miserable, unhappy kid. The 6 week summer school session in the summer of 2011 was especially bad. I would literally CRINGE when my wife would text me throughout the day, just waiting to hear another bad report from school…or how he lunged at my wife’s father.
The summer of rage can be summed up with this one picture.
That’s a picture of me after Kyle threw a fork my way when I was trying to coerce him to eat. And the 4 prongs went just above my eye.
So the decision to medicate was pretty easy. Our son wasn’t happy in his life. He couldn’t tell us what was wrong, but he wasn’t happy.
So we went to see a local psycho-pharmacologist who specializes in asd kids and she recommend two oldies but goodies. Klonopin & Thorazine.
I wrote about these two meds in a previous post READ) and I wrote…
“Over summer of 2011 Kyle was filled with RAGE. He was very violent and having multiple major meltdowns/ tantrums per day where he could be self injurious and hurt one of us. Starting in September, with the help of a psycho-pharmacologist who specialized is spectrum kids we’ve had him on low doses of two old school meds, 2 meds that if you use google will scare the bejesus out of you, 2 meds that were talked about in the book/movie “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”, and 2 meds that have helped Kyle IMMENSELY…
The 2 meds? Klonopin & Thorazine…
2 scary meds, in very small doses that have rewired his brain a bit and improved Kyle’s quality of life and made him a much happier kid. He is NOT a zombie in any way. He is just Kyle but without most of the meltdowns/ violence…”
And the Klonopin he’s been on ever since. The Thorazine he’s been off since he started some of the antiseizure meds.
Anyway, back to your questions. People will write me and tell me about how violent their kids are or how unhappy their kids are, but then they’ll say things like “I don’t believe in medication” or “I don’t want to make him a zombie” or “I don’t want to change his personality”
You don’t believe in medication? What does that mean? Why exactly?
You don’t want to make your kid a zombie? You just wrote me that your kid only sleeps 2 hours a night, maybe being a zombie is just what he needs!
You don’t want to change his personality? This is my favorite. Your kid is attacking you & others. Your kid is injuring himself. Your kid is miserable. I think all these mean his personality needs A TON of changing! Or he might end up in jail in a few years…or godforbid worse!
Maybe it’s different with high functioning kids and/ or kids who are verbal. Maybe if my kid could express himself and tell me what’s bothering him it would be harder for me to consider medication…but I doubt it cuz medication has helped me.
I’ve written countless times about how I take the antidepressant Wellbutrin. It’s been almost 3 1/2 years now. You can read about my story about antidepressants HERE.
So maybe that’s it…Maybe because I’ve had success on antidepressant medication I’m more ok with giving it to my son. I dunno.
All I know is in my humble opinion when your kid is absolutely miserable for most of his day and you can’t figure out why, and you’ve ruled out most things medical, then I think it’s time to try some drugs.
And not all drugs will work… And some might make things worse…but you gotta try something to make your kid’s quality of life a little better. That’s our jobs as parents.
And am I worried about the long term effects? No, I covered that in another blog post (READ) when I wrote.
“…I talk a lot on here about trying as much as possible to live in the moment, live in the here & now. And I can somewhat control the here & now. I can’t really control the future….I will take a GREAT 12 month stretch now and deal with the possible consequences later, and I think if my son could tell us he would choose that as well…”
We took Kyle to a special needs dentist office this week. Not just special needs kids, but special needs adults as well…which is always hard to see.
Kyle with all his meds in his system was bouncing off the walls. He was having a rough morning…rare these days, but they still happen. As he was loudly stimming and trying to run away, I looked around the room at all the special needs adults, some quite low functioning, and they were all behaving great. My first thought? “Great my Kyle is worse than all these people here” My second thought? “Maybe they’re all behaving because they’re all drugged up” And then I thought “So what? Going to the dentist is a traumatic experience for many, including me, maybe a little extra drug is appropriate!” And I made a mental note to ask Kyle’s dr whether we could try an extra 1/2 Klonopin before dentist appointments… and maybe haircuts! 🙂
Anyway, I’m rambling so I’m gonna end it there. Now you know my opinions on this subject…
Peace Be With You…
Written byFrank Campagna
I’m a 48 year old neurotypical dad with a 14 year old son with severe, non-verbal autism & epilepsy. I created this blog to rant about autism & epilepsy while celebrating my son who I affectionately call “the king” :-).