by Cas Faulds
I’m a bit hesitant to write this post, because I know that there are strong opinions on medicating children. I hold strong opinions about
it, and I know that other people may have opposing views.
So, before I go into my reasons why I don’t medicate my child, I would like to acknowledge that there are times when medication may be suitable. There are times where medication may actually help, but it’s important that any medication is not seen as the complete solution. Rather, medication should be seen as a tool that can be used to support a person while they are developing the skills that they need to deal with whatever problems they’re experiencing.
There was a time when I was pressured by my son’s school to try medication. I carefully weighed up the risks and benefits and agreed to a
trial. The trial lasted for three months before I decided that the side effects were not worth the very slight improvement in his ability to focus. So, I’m not suggesting that everyone should never consider giving their children medication. I’m only explaining why I currently choose not to.
With that disclaimer, here are my three reasons for not medicating my child:
1. My son is Autistic
On the surface, that reason might not appear to mean much with regards to why I don’t medicate him. But, whenever I have been questioned about why I don’t, the reasons for those questions have to do with him being very typically autistic. I love my son and accept him for who he is wholeheartedly. I see no reason to try and reduce his ability to express himself, or simply be himself.
2. My son’s brain is still developing
We don’t really know that much about how autistic brains develop. Researchers spend a lot of time comparing Autistic children to their neurotypical peers, but they haven’t spent as much time mapping out autistic development in its own right. We definitely know that autistic people’s brains develop differently, but we don’t really have a good understanding of exactly how that happens. If I medicate my son, will I be interfering with that process? I don’t have the answers to that question, so that’s why I choose not to mediate.
3. My son needs to have opportunities to develop self-help skills
If I were to medicate him, it wouldn’t give him the opportunity to learn self-help skills because the medication would reduce the effects that situational demands or environmental stimuli have on him. While he is young, I have the ability to reduce those demands so that we can figure out strategies for him to be able to cope with the overwhelm he regularly experiences. I am able to offer gentle exposure to challenging situations,
and this helps him develop self-help skills. He will need those self-help skills when he’s older so I feel that it’s necessary for him to be
able to gradually develop them rather than being reliant on medication.
There have been times when maybe things could be easier for me if my son was medicated. But, I know that my son is doing his best. I know
that, as the adult, I am responsible for supporting him through the times when he is overwhelmed and struggling. I know that I am capable of making adjustments to our lifestyle and home environment in order to meet his needs.
My son is still learning about his world, he’s still developing self-help strategies. My son will always be Autistic, and I hope that by giving him the opportunity to learn about his world in a non-threatening way, he will develop into his best Autistic self.