Part 10 – Medication – a mother’s perspective

As a parent, the decision to give psychiatric medication to your own child can be an incredibly hard one to make.  This decision is not helped by the media portrayal of ‘medicating mothers’ looking for quick fixes for their children’s problems that are often assumed to be due to poor parenting.  Such simplistic and gendered views have, in my opinion, made some mothers such as me feel particularly bad about using medication.  We are often made to feel as though we are to blame for our children’s difficulties or worse that we have failed our children when we use medication to help them.  Yet I believe that it is society that is failing families like mine. 

Children who have difficulties such as ADHD, autism, aspergers and/or mental health disorders are often misunderstood and not properly supported within British society.  Indeed to the ordinary onlooker in the street, the sometimes challenging behaviour of our children can appear to be the result of poor parenting yet very often their behaviour is the result of that child’s difficulty interacting and coping with the social and sensory world around them.  Because these children’s difficulties do not have an obvious physical presentation, many people are too ready to assume that it is the parents’ fault rather than seeking to explore whether there is an underlying ‘hidden’ disability such as autism.

Unfortunately this is an attitude that I have come across far too often in society, particularly within mainstream education with distressing consequences for my family.  As some of my blog posts have revealed my son’s poor health was aggravated by an uncompassionate education system and the failure of key professionals to listen and respond to my concerns.  It was just too easy to blame me.   

Consequently to find yourself seeking psychiatric help for your child is a very upsetting experience, not least because you wonder if all of this could have been avoided in the first place through the provision of early intervention and support.  However, although families like mine find ourselves in this awful situation, this does not mean we automatically demand medication to ‘fix’ our child.  We may not want to go down the medicated route but want to try out other therapies first but unfortunately other therapies are either not offered, not suitable or simply do not exist.  In our case whilst talking therapies were available, it was felt that they would not work for our son due to the severity of his problems.  Consequently, like many other families, we found ourselves being guided towards medication because that was the only route to go.  This is not to say that I am against medication for I believe that medication does have a role to play (which it did for us) but I would also like to see more therapies being used either before resorting to medication or adjunct to medication. 

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6 Responses to Part 10 – Medication – a mother’s perspective

  1. Aspie in the family says:

    >Hi Looking for Blue Sky – It is sad. I'd like the state to see parents as being equal partners rather than people to blame or to distrust. By working together, I'm sure most of our children would have a better experience of school etc.

  2. Looking for Blue Sky says:

    >It's very sad, but it seems easier for the State to blame the parents at first and then if that is clearly not the case, then to provide medication.

  3. Aspie in the family says:

    >@ Crystal Jigsaw – thanks for commenting. In my area I have met quite a number of parents who would like other therapies and support besides or instead of medication (for behavioural or anxiety related issues). Unfortunately as you say there is little additional therapies on offer so parents like me find themselves going down the medicated route. It is a very stressful position to be in so it is even more annoying to read of parents like me being misrepresented in the media.

    @jontybabe – ah, thanks for the lovely comment. x

    @lucewoman – hello and thankyou for commenting on my blog. Your comments are helpful to me and I'm sure to other readers too. I do agree with you about the lack of understanding about ASD. I think too many people see and think of disability in the physical sense and if someone doesn't look obviously impaired, they then blame someone, often the parents. Well this has been my experience for the last decade.

  4. LUCEWOMAN says:

    >Hi there,

    I am mum to 3 boys, 2 of them have been through the diagnostic process of Asperger's syndrome, neither of them yet diagnosed.
    Prior to having my youngest son, I worked for ten years in an Autistic unit within a special school.
    I like to think I had a very deep respect for the children and their families. The same could NOT be said for all of my colleagues. Unfortunately ASD's are often wrongly seen as an 'excuse' for poor behaviour and bad parenting. The world still has a lot to learn about tolerance, patience, understanding and empathy.
    I noticed a trend with children who had Asperger's syndrome, mainly the boys between the ages of 12 and 15. They seemed to hit puberty overnight, become slightly more aggressive and responded less favourably to the usual way of dealing with everyday issues. I am happy to say, that this often improved with either medication, or just coming through the sudden onset of puberty once things settled down.
    I'm not sure I've said what I wanted to say, or if anything is helpful to you, but I wanted to introduce myself after discovering your blog this evening.I agree with the post by jontybabe too, you are obviously very dedicated to your family. Lucy x

  5. jontybabe says:

    >arghhhhhhhh just posted a long winded comment and it disappeared! lol. Just wanted to say you are a fab mother and your son is very lucky. You are doing a wonderful job!

    x

  6. Crystal Jigsaw says:

    >One has to consider if medication will be the only way forward or if, indeed, therapy and better professional support would be more efficient. Unfortunately, as is the case in most areas, professional support is in short supply which means parents are often left with little choice but to find alternative therapies such as medication. If this works best for your child then it should be your prerogative to make that choice. Our ignorant society doesn't have a clue what a parent to a special needs child goes through, nor can they ever understand what an autistic spectrum person has to cope with. People should mind their own business and remember the following:

    I am epileptic. If I wasn't medicated with 2000mg of Keppra every day, I would most likely be putting myself and my family at risk. I probably wouldn't get out of bed without having a seizure. Life would be impossible for me and my family. This is why we feel it necessary to medicate. It doesn't matter what the condition, if it means our lives will be better off, then there really shouldn't be an issue.

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