Monday 18 April 2016

The slippery slope of medicating my kids

autism and medication

My boys are not in any physical pain. They are not bleeding, their organs aren't failing, they have no broken bones. They very rarely get colds or flu. But this afternoon, I'm visiting another medical professional seeking more drugs for one of my sons.

I started motherhood with the idea of being as natural as possible. I get a lot of headaches and didn't want my kids turning into their pill-popping mother.  I failed at this miserably.  Natural gave way to man-made, synthetic and then prescribed and beyond.

I breast fed until Anthony refused to drink. Breast milk turned to formula when he was losing weight and we ended up feeding baby Anthony formula with a teaspoon. It took hours.

I looked at disposable nappies but Anthony cried at all the types I tried. We went with all natural things to help with the boys sensitivity to touch, then went with the manufactured versions because they worked better. We try to feed David fresh food... but after he doesn't eat for several days and is crying whilst trying to get into the fridge, he has blasted chicken nuggets.  The list of failures goes on and on. Although most of this is related to the boys having autism, it is like many other neuro conditions in that it doesn't require medication.  There isn't a 'cure' and therapies are about helping them develop the skills they needed to function in society.

And most kids have probably had some form of fever reducer or pain relief as they grow up right?  I don't think twice about giving their younger sister something when she is ill. But I remember very well the circumstance that led to me playing my first 'autism card', our first seeking medication for one of the boys that had nothing to do with any pain... at worst it could be perceived as being for convenience.

We I was extremely nervous about taking David on a long haul flight. We spoke to our GP and they prescribed us some heavy antihistamines that would make David drowsy and therefore, hopefully more calm.  It seemed to work.

A while later, after we had tried everything we could to get David to sleep more than a few hours at a stretch, we sought a prescription for a drug, melatonin this time. We have upped his dose twice since then.  We now import patches as it's a real problem trying to get a five year old boy who has no concept of what's going on to take the daft pills that they prescribe to us in the UK.

Then, just before last Christmas, Anthony was diagnosed with ADHD.  Most of the 'natural' therapy for ADHD is the same as is used to help him with autism. This meant that the wonderful pile of papers we received from the neuro-specialist who diagnosed Anthony's ADHD was a list of things we'd either tried and rejected, or mostly were just doing anyway as a matter of course. Ultimately it meant the only thing left to help Anthony was... yep... medication.

As this conclusion dawned on my husband and I whilst reading the specialist report, we looked over at Anthony. Could we get away without medicating him?

Sure, he was skipping around the kitchen like a lunatic and you really don't have any idea about kids climbing the walls until you've seen one with ADHD.  He wasn't in any pain or hurting anyone right? But that night in bed, when he was wriggling around doing a pretty good impression of Lord of the Dance because he couldn't lie still, I knew. "I'm very tired mummy, but I'm just not very good at going to sleep." Bless him, it's his brother in the other room with the melatonin drugs that's got those problems. Anthony couldn't sleep because he couldn't stop moving or concentrate on staying still long enough to drop off.  In the days that followed where it took him 15 minutes to put on shoes because 'I keep forgetting and can't stop jumping' it became more obvious.

I resigned myself to the fact that I'd be making another appointment to ask for medication to help one of my boys and today's the day. I feel like I'm turning into some sort of dispensary.

About a month ago Anthony was also diagnosed with anxiety, will I be here again in a few months?  I'll wonder all over again if medication is the right thing in the next situation. But it's a slippery slope, and I can't help feeling that each time we consider if another drug is the answer, it gets easier to swallow.

Our blog - The miracle of light through a curtain, autism and sleep
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  1. This post brought tears to my eyes...I'm a mom to a child with autism. She's 5 and she's beautiful and wonderful, but she is so hard for me to handle. She takes melatonin in liquid form (which is sold over the counter here in the US). I don't know if it really helps or not...we have not explored other medication options yet. Mostly because my husband is against it and I don't know how to feel about it. All I know is that it is me that has to change in order to handle it all...not her, but I wonder...would medication help? Is it selfish to wonder about that option or would it bring her relief, too? Thank you for sharing your concerns and helped me to know I'm not alone.

    1. It's all about the child isn't it. No you are not alone, there are lots of autism parents and other parents who are constantly battling with what beat for thier kids. The fact that you are asking the questions is the key. Good luck to you and feel free to contact me anytime via the contact us page or other posts (which you may enjoy, there are happy ones here too). Xxx

  2. This has made me think very hard. I am currently considering our 5 year old to be assessed for ADHD but we are currently in limbo about it purely because he has no trouble sleeping but he cannot but still for anything else. As he grows its getting slowly worse. Just the thought of medicating him make me sick but if the medication will help with his life then I will have to swallow whatever I am feeling right now and do it. Thank you for sharing xx

    1. It's a difficult topic I think. Some people are all for it, others can't stand the idea. If you get assessed it doesn't mean you need to have meds though, but might know if they have ADHD and then examine options? Whatever you decide, mummies usually make the best decisions for thier families!

  3. A beautiful post, It must be so hard to have to keep going to the docs discussing more medication. Hopefully your journey gets easier xx


    1. Better that than discussing how he can't be helped I suppose!

  4. My nephew has melotonin too, he's dyspraxic and has ADHD, and anxiety. My sister really didn't want to medicate him but after a couple of days of no sleep he's a zombie, not my nephew. Just remember, you are doing the best, no matter what you chose to do, you are doing to help them and that is the best thing you can do. #KCACOLS

  5. I think this is a wonderful post. I love going to natural first, but have an appreciation for the need for medicine. I know it must be very difficult when every suggestion from the doctor is another medication. You're not a failure though, and I hope you realize this. Every child is different, and some need more help than others. x Much love. #KCACOLS

  6. What a challenging (to say the least) situation. I Have no advice to offer or suggestions to try. Just support from one mom to another trying to do what's best (as best as we can figure) for our kiddos. {hugs}

  7. This seems like a really tough place to be but at the end of the day you can only ever do what you feel in your heart is best for you, your kids and your family. Whatever works for you guys is the best way forward! #kcacols

  8. Oh don't feel bad you are doing the best you can to help your kids. Sometimes medication is the best solution so your kids are happy and then you are happy. I see it in that way so it is more positive. You are doing great!! Sending ((hugs)). Thanks so much for sharing this at #KCACOLS. It is great to have you for the first time, I hope that you enjoyed it. It would be nice to see you again tomorrow, :) x

    1. Yes I think we see it that way too.. Doesn't stop you questioning it sometimes, just as we should I suppose. And thanks for hosting.

  9. I think we all have mom guilt - it's part of the job. Wanting healthy & natural things for your kids is wonderful but as you found out that doesn't always work out as planned. And in terms of medicine, I think you'd be doing your kids a disservice if you didn't get the meds they need. In an ideal world, they wouldn't need any med but if they do, then they are best to have them. Best of luck with it all lovely! Thank you for sharing with #bloggerclubuk x

  10. We haven't got to a medication discussion yet, but I have a feeling melatonin will be on the cards at some point, if not that definitely something that helps him calm a little easier. It is such a tough one, and I know it wont be easy when the time comes. Don't feel a failure hun, you are doing the bets for your children! Thank you for linking up to #spectrumsunday hope you join me again this week xx


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