Psychiatric Medication and Kids - FamilyEducation
Psychiatric Medication and Kids
06/25/2008 at 16:21 PM

I believe that each factor in a decision to medicate a child with psychiatric medications or any other medication must be considered. To oppose medication simplistically is as wrong as medicating irresponsibly.

I speak from the experience of being a parent of two differently bipolar children. I speak from the experience of being a widow of a man who refused medication and therapy and committed suicide. I speak from the experience of being a child of a schizophrenic parent.

It is not so simple as not medicating. It is knowing your child, knowing your doctor, knowing your home situation and factors in the individual's life, knowing as much as possible about the medications, knowing and discussing all these things with each and every party involved with your child's daily interactions.

I am incredibly sorry that this happened to a child, your child, and to you. I lived day by day, moment to moment, when I was attempting to stabilize each of my kids and suicide was a real possibility. I changed doctors twice; I questioned their judgments; I requested information about what each medication was supposed to do and what the side-effects could be; I called at the slightest irregularity; I became unafraid to discuss my child with the teachers, school, staff, etc., I made sure each child and myself had a psychological therapist as well as the psychiatrist.  I basically felt like I put my life on hold to help them.

I taught my kids what each medication was for and asked them questions about it helping or what it did - whether it helped or not. They became involved with helping themselves. My youngest was 10 when the diagnosis became more than ADHD. He was a self-harmer and considered suicidal at 10. I was shocked. My older son was a cutter who almost bled to death.

Well, I could go on and on. My real message here is that there are so very many factors to mental health -  whether it is a child, a teen, or an adult. A blanket statement cannot possibly take into account a situation such as this.  I encourage all parents not to judge lest they be guilty of judging their own kids for having the mental health issue and possibly not allowing those kids to be healthy on the right medication(s).

I agree entirely with you. Two of my sons have ADHD, the youngest also has Asperger's. My oldest son was not diagnosed until he was in his twenties, after his little brother was diagnosed. The older son gets by. He has a wonderful relationship with a lovely girl, and he finds menial work that he can cope with. His small brother was given Ritalin which he took for 7 years before changing to Omega 3, which I have to say is wonderful. I had to run the gamut of people thinking it was wrong to medicate a child, but without the medication, his life would have been like his brothers. The Ritalin gave him a chance to focus and lead a nearly 'normal' life. I have heard some so-called experts say that giving a child drugs like this is tantamount to abuse, but witholding them , in my opinion is the greater crime. It would have been abuse to let him flounder through life without this help. Some children never get the help they need because the parents can't admit even to themselves that their child has a problem. They want their child to be 'normal' That is passive abuse.

I think as a parent that you are doing an excellent job, and I applaud you. I never admitted this to anyone on this site before, but my brother committed suicide before he turned 30. He had been on meds for anxiety and depression, but unfortunately he was very sloppy about taking them. My oldest son has a disability, and I worry constantly about how genetics may have had a role in it. It has never been suggested that my son be on any medication as of yet, but we do notice he has problems focusing and staying on task at times. Will he ever need meds? I don't know. However, like you, I would do all the research and seek out all the answers I cld before making any major decisions. And I wld stay on top of it always. I am not a strong advocate of drugs for children, but if I knew it wld help my son, I wld most definitely try it. In my brother's case, as an adult, he wld take himself off the meds w/out telling anyone, but once he did this, he went into such a low, it was scary. Meds need to be regulated by a dr and never messed w/. It takes time to get your body back up to speed again w/ meds, and my brother didn't have the time. It was too late. To anyone who is affected by mental illness to any degree, PLEASE follow through w/ regular dr visits and psychiatric counceling! It can make all the difference. You are doing an incredible job, and I wish you all the best w/ everything.

It evident that you have been though alot of issue with your children and my pray and wishes are with you and your family.I have a son w/ adhd & odd & w/in the last year dr r/o bipolar pdd autism -aspergar. I want to advocate for him w/dr & school I want to make sure i do have him on the right med & treatment I know you have alot of things that you deal with but if you can give some point or helpful info it would greatly be apreciated I don't want to lose my son Christina

junieg, you stated that your youngest have asperger can u tell me his symtoms & how u got it dignoised.My son is 13 & his symtoms fall into bipolar asperger pdd symtoms & the psychitrist is having difficulties in dign. she does not want to make a decision until he has a neuropsychologial eval which i have been waiting for the dr ofice to schedule,you are the 2n person that i heard that they use omega 3 can u give more info on omega 3,any natural herbal vitmain sound better to give than the concerta,abilify,depakote & cloindine that my son takes,any tip would be apreciated Thank christina

It is hard to describe fully the symptoms of Asperger's which my son shows as he also has ADHD as a co-morbidity. The symptoms of the two do seem to cross over. Asperger's is high functioning autism and the main symptoms are usually the social and communication one. He was never a 'cuddly' child and would avoid physical contact as much as possible. He liked to play alongside children but not with them. Parallel play like this is commom in children up to about three, but then they should play more with others. He found it very hard to understand rules and a child with Asperger's can take things very literally. He is very poor at reading other people's body language and judging emotions. [He used to wind me up terribly. I have quite a long fuse but he wound me up so tightly sometimes that I would eventually give vent only for him to say in an amazed voice 'What's wrong']. He is not very good at empathising either and can't always understand where people are 'coming from' Another symptom is often obsessions, or organising things . Lining up all his toys, keeping them all in the exact order every day. If I moved something inadvertently he would get very annoyed and have to move it back to it's rightful place. He could be very preoccupied with things and in a world of his own. Eye contact can be poor but not always, and the same with speech. Rigid routine is very important and if his routine changed even slightly, he would find it very difficult to cope with. Some children may be clumsy and accident prone, some may have a strange walking gait. My son was always having accidents but some of that was probably ADHD. My son hates sudden or loud noises which really freaks him out. At the same time, he can be a normal teenager and play his music loud at times. I guess that is because he has chosen to do this and it is not sudden and scary. Some children have the same reaction to smells, taste etc. All the senses can be affected. My son has always had problems with food. I used to have to use a special divided dish because he couldn't eat foods mixed together. I had plates which you get with ready meals so I could put meat in one compartment, potatoes or rice etc in another, and vegetables in the third. Although he now eats from a normal plate, he can still not take 'wet' foods such as things in a sauce etc with dry. foods. They need to be kept separate. He does have some problems with the textures of certain foods too. Some children even have a problem with colours and will not eat a food of a certain colour. This is more extreme. Children with Aspeger's find abstract things difficult but are really good with facts. They can be very creative in what they choose to do however. As for the Omega 3, I have found the best product was EyeQ. I know a few other mothers who have tried it on their children and have noticed a big difference. You can probably find a lot of information about it on the net. How about this one to start with

I've been thinking since I answered yesterday and a few other things came to mind about some of the other things which led to the diagnosis my son got. One of them was head-banging. I had to stop my son from doing this as he hit the walls and furniture so hard I was scared he would hurt himself badly. He seemed to get such pleasure from it though and had always to be distracted. It was difficult getting him to sleep as I had to watch out for him doing it in bed. You would leave the room and then hear this loud banging. Because of the ADHD he didn't seem to need too much sleep. I have to admit that I often waited until he fell asleep himself in the living room and carried him through to bed. By the time he was only about 3 or 4 weeks old I discovered another odd little fact. I noticed that he sometimes got very distressed when getting dressed or undressed. I know, not very uncommon and almost all babies would be the same. Sometimes they just don't want all the bother. I am not sure what kind of instinc led to this discovery however I found that I had to dress him from the left. Left sock on first, left sleeve, trouser leg etc. He was always fine after I started doing this. The occasional small grizzle of a tired or irritated baby perhaps, but not the major distress he had gone through before. He is left-handed and made his preference very clear at an early age. Left/right preference is sometimes not fixed until a child is nearly 5. We shopped in a local supermarket and the flooring had a line join about every 5 metres or so. My son liked to push the trolley [cart] and I let him. He would stop short of every line accross the floor, walk round to the front of the trolley and lift the front wheels over the line. He would then go back round and push the back wheels up to the line and lift them over. He did this at every line, so as you can imagine, shopping could take a bit of time. It was very important to him though and I had to let him get on with it. He would have been very distressed otherwise. It did cause a lot of stares and comments but I made a lot of friends with the staff. They were always very kind and accommodating to my son.

junieg, i have bben asked if my son has any ticks i always havesaid no but today he was hummy when he was eatin i did nit even hear it but hid brother told him to knock it off alot of time the family hears it more than me could this be consider a tick? Christins

I can recommend a book about social skills that I use and have used for years. "The Language of Social Success." I also advocate books with situations that you can discuss. I had to use one called "What Would You Do?" It is similar to "What Would Jesus Do?" but covers situations like bullying and such outside of the religious content. I talked about everything including why each medication was necessary and what it was for. As many times as I have done this, I found myself doing it again yesterday with my youngest because he suddenly said "I didn't take my medication...and see, I'm okay." Well, it's not that simple and he was not okay. He spoke the hallucinations the medication is for coming back and the sleeplessness at night and the inability to get up in the morning and the super "high" moods...giggling and laughing at not-so-silly things...then being irritable (rapid cycling of moods.) So we talked it all through again. I usually watch him take the medications, but sometimes I find myself taking it for granted as I'm just in the same room or something. I'm not perfect, but I know the signs and I usually know when he has NOT taken them because they will be on the counter after he leaves for a friend's house. I don't run after him or anything anymore, but I do discuss it with him all over again when it happens. My older son was not taking his for a while and finally made time to go to the psychiatrist with us because he realized he really did need them. He's going to be 20 in Sept. so I cannot do much...but we talk about it still. I used the same books with him, same discussions. We still talk about issues he, girlfriends, books, whatever. They both have types of difficulty with interpreting social situations. I used what I could to make it safe to keep on talking with them about whatever came up. I learned not to "freak out" - toughest part, I swear!