Reprinted from my personal blog Every Day is Different. Original Publication Date: November 10, 2010.
"It is astonishing that these drugs are used so widely with children -- 5 percent of the school-aged population on a daily basis," said William Pelham, professor of psychology, pediatrics and psychiatry at the State University of New York at Buffalo. ADHD Drugs Linked To Sudden Death
Ever since Indigo was four, people have been spitting the word medication at me. I refused to swallow it. I did chew on it a few times, especially nights I went to sleep in tears because I couldn't handle the energy it took just to help Indigo do certain tasks, like eating his dinner or taking a bath (early years).
Fortunately, as the years went by, Indigo's energy levels and distractibility evened out tremendously. And I realized that by medicating Indigo, I would be "medicating" those around him because it made THEIR jobs easier.
I took on the "I'm sorry if my kid takes more work to educate" attitude. He's more work to parent as well, but Indigo's best interest should be the most important thing. I heard "medicate" less and less as he got older and I was grateful, but it popped up every now and then.
Recently, Indigo's distractibility has become more frequent. I notice that he sometimes forgets what he's doing just minutes after he begins a homework assignment.
"Indie, finish your sentences, you have four more left," I'll say.
"What?" Indigo's eyes will try to focus on me. "Oh right," as he looks back at the computer screen.
At his IEP meeting last month, the educational professionals mentioned medication. This is a team of people who have worked with Indigo for fourteen months now. They have worked very hard to accommodate his needs and adapt his education whenever he needs to switch up a learning strategy.
I highly respect them. So I was surprised they mentioned it. They told me they valued my opinion and didn't expect me to medicate my son, but they thought it might help. After the meeting, Indigo asked me questions about medicine. Despite my hesitance, I told him we could talk to his doctor see if it would help him. Talking does not mean administering, but I thought, perhaps I'm not looking at the bigger and better picture.
I've always had a strong inkling that medication is not right for Indigo. I feel so many children are on medicine and while I know some children can't function without it, too many children are medicated (there are severe cases of disabilities where medicine would benefit more than harm).
How do we really know what the side effects of these meds will do to our children in 10, 20, 50 years?
I just saw on the news yesterday that a 10 year-old-boy died unexpectedly while playing basketball at a friend's house. Read the story: Family, friends mourn young athlete, 'sweet boy' I saw the video first on TV but it's not up on the Internet yet. As I listened to the story, all I could think was "Indie loves playing sports."
What a heart-breaking story.
Indigo has managed for 14 years [now 15] without medicine. He is a happy, ambitious young man. Yes, he struggles with focusing, but he hardly complains about it.
I hear so many medication stories from parents and grownups that were medicated for attention issues as children. Most of them say it works for a while, but in the long run, they are better without it.
Decisions like this are hard to make as a parent. But after seeing this news story I realize that I should trust my original instinct. I have felt strongly against medicating Indigo and there is probably good reason for it. When it comes down to it, he doesn't risk hurting himself by not having medicine. His impulsivity is not an issue, just his focusing.
Plus, he's a teenage boy ... we're coming into daydreaming years anyway.
I will continue working with Indigo on strategies to help him overcome his focusing issues. For the most part, inattention doesn't interfere with his life too much outside of school.
My deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of Tim Nadeau.
Side Note: I reprinted this post because I receive a lot of emails about medication and learning disabilities. Many parents tell me that doctors prescribe medication before fully testing their children to see what their issues could stem from. I have heard success stories but mostly horror stories about the side effects, including severe mood and behavioral changes, extreme weight loss, and insomnia.
What are your thoughts and experiences with these types of medication?
© Sera Rivers