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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