Category Archives: medication

In Answer to – Medication?

A number of people wrote in on the post, To Medicate or Not with their experiences.  The post was not about medicating autism, but about some of the co-morbid diagnoses that many people who are also Autistic  have.  Quite a few people wrote about managing depression, anxiety, stress and related issues.  Some wrote about how they began trying different medications in their late teens…  “I started medication at about 19…  I started with Prozac and it went well for a while but over time it stopped working.  It did make me feel better at first.  From there and over the years, I have tried many different antidepressants for my anxiety- Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft,Trazadone for sleeping, Zyprexa, Cymbalta, Welbutrin, Effexor, and Nortriptaline.”

Many parents wrote about how they agonized over the decision to try medication and almost all of them said it was done as a last resort.  Both Autistic parents and parents who are not autistic said similar things about their decision to medicate their child.  One person wrote, “my autistic child is on ADHD meds and has been since he was four. AdderallXR until last year, now Vyvance (same med with less appetite suppression). Clonidine at night. He wants to be on them. He has told me he feels more creative and happy with his mind not looping fifty things at once.

Another wrote, “I had been fighting the medication for a few years.  I have had anxiety since I was little.  I had the doctor refer me back to one of my psychiatrists who is willing to talk and if necessary provide a prescription.  This time we tried combining medications.  Welbutrin seemed to help a bit so we tried things like Ritalin to help increase its effectiveness.  I was able to focus much better and things seemed to go well but I got severe heart burn as a side effect of the Ritalin.  We tried Dexadrin next but it didn’t work.  I gave up for a bit and then discovered Buspar.  It is an antianxiety drug but not in a class like valium etc which are addictive.

Lots of people wrote about having to try many medications and often combinations of things before they found what worked.  And a number of people wrote about being judged harshly by others either for taking medication themselves or for deciding to give it to their child.  One person wrote, “…they do not know.  They pass judgment, but have not lived the experience.  They make comments and say things as though they have the answers, but they don’t.  They  don’t know what it’s like.  They can’t.  I’ve learned to say nothing and ignore the mean comments and loud whispers.

Another wrote, “I don’t tell people anymore, because I’m tired of their uninformed criticism.

Again, thanks to everyone who wrote about this.  Really appreciate the honesty and willingness to share your stories.

To Medicate or Not?

It has been suggested I write a post about medications, both those prescribed and given to Autistic children, as well as those taken by Autistic adults.  This is not a topic I have any first hand knowledge about.  We have not given our daughter any medication, other than melatonin at night to aid in sleep, which has been nothing short of miraculous, and during those unfortunate years when I thought or hoped massive amounts of homeopathic tinctures would “help” her (they didn’t) and later the dozen or so vitamins recommended by the naturopath, we have managed to steer clear of medications.  (By the way, magnesium is helpful with constipation.)  I also have to quickly add, we have been able to steer clear of meds because our daughter does not exhibit any clear need for the medications currently available.

Personally I don’t like taking even aspirin, forget anything more hardcore, but I also am coming from a privileged vantage point.  I don’t have debilitating depression or anxiety or other issues, which would make taking medication a good idea.  The one time in my life when I was depressed and bulimic, Prozac was prescribed.  My reaction to it was less than ideal.  Even taking something as benign as ambien has a negative effect after more than one night on it.  I seem to be extremely sensitive to drugs and often have an atypical response to them.  With ambien, if I take more than half the prescribed dose I become so depressed I can barely function.  As a result I avoid taking anything, even if prescribed.

But I know people who do and have taken medications of all kinds and to say that it is optional, is being overly simplistic.  For people who need medication, things like antidepressants, or meds for anxiety or other issues that affect their ability to function optimally, it is profound the difference the right medication can make to their quality of life, their ability to wake up in the morning, their productivity level etc.  For those people, medication makes the difference between a bare, brutal existence and being a vibrant, active being who is fully in this world and able to enjoy it.  But what about those who are Autistic?  What is their experience?  Is it similar to those who are non autistic?  Is it the difference between barely scraping by and being able be fully present, or is it something else?

So I am asking for your help.  Anyone who has any first hand knowledge, whether it is you taking the medication, giving it to your child, or if you were given medication as a child, can you tell me what you take/took/were given/ or give to another and how it affected you?  Was it a positive experience, and if it was or wasn’t, exactly why?  Do you respond to medication atypically?  Did you have to experiment?  If you are a parent, describe your decision to medicate, what was the outcome, did you feel it helped or didn’t help?  Did your child notice the difference?  Any and all answers will be quoted anonymously unless you tell me otherwise or if you leave your comments below, I will only use whatever name you used to comment with unless you tell me otherwise.  If you prefer to email me, please do:

Thanks so much everyone.  Really appreciate the willingness to share your experiences with me.