People have very strong opinions about medication. I get that. It is a really big deal to put prescription pills in your kid. What I don’t get is when people make blanket statements like, “I would NEVER put my kid on medication.” What I really don’t get is when people judge other people for putting their kids on medication. Go switch places with that parent for a week and see if you still feel the same way.
We decided to start Gray on medications when he was 4 1/2 years old. It was an agonizing decision for me. I think I felt a lot of guilt. I felt like I was giving up on the therapy and my parenting abilities and giving it all over to pharmaceutical company to fix. I felt like putting Gray on medication was just a step away from sending him off to some asylum. It seemed to me that I was trying to smother who Gray for the convenience of our family.
That attitude started to crack when Gray began attacking 1-year-old Lena. Any time he got angry, he would lash out at her. He would pull her hair, drag her across the floor and scratch her face. It got to the point where I felt like I couldn’t even let her play on the floor more that 2 feet away from me without fearing for her safety. When he started flipping over the coffee table without regard to who might be on the other side, I knew we had to do something to get things under control.
Barry came with me to the appointment and I made clear to the doctor that I was just on a fact-finding mission. I did not want to make any commitments right away. Barry on the other hand opened with, “One of us is leaving here with a prescription today. It’s either him or me, but one of us is going on medication.”
Our doctor was very kind and understanding. She really felt like it was time to try some medical intervention. She explained to me that we needed to think of his tantrums or mania as a cry of displeasure. If your neuro-typical child had blinding headaches that made him roll around on the floor in agony, you would get him some medication for that, right? Is this that different? If your 4-year-old is so filled with rage that he bites himself, hits himself, smashes his head into walls and windows and then lashes out at other people, he is indicating some kind of agony. I don’t know if it is physical pain or something else that he feels, but if medication can help that, I am all for it. Once I started looking at the behaviors as his cry for help and not just my need for peace, I was able to get on board with medications.
Flash forward 2 1/2 years and I almost laugh at my old self for being resistant so long. We still have tantrums sometimes and we still have crazy manic episodes, but they are dramatically better than they were before. On the flip side, the times when he is calm and happy and able to learn what the therapists are trying to teach him have increased. I had one therapist tell me, “I think he seems like the boy he was meant to be.” What she meant by that was that he finally seemed content. If there is one thing we ALL deserve, it is to be more content.