Monday, October 21, 2013

Medicating a Child: my two cents.

For most of my posts on Quinny, with regards to behavioral and lifestyle interventions- I speak freely on the natural and therapeutic approaches we use.
I speak about her Occupational Therapy.
All the other alternative therapy models.
Her supplements.
Her diet.
Our parenting style.
Our family structure.
Our lifestyle.

But I realized I have never spoke about her medication therapy.

Until today.

The debate over medication and children, has been in full up-roar for generations.
And it seems it gets more and more heated as years go on.

Which is good, really.
The concern, the debate, the conversations over "over-medicating" our children, is a GOOD thing.
The judgement and stigma attached to such decisions- is not.

If my conversation about medication can give some insight into the decision making process of medicating a child, or judging a family on doing so- I am happy to share our story.


Quinn was four.
Her aggression and agitation was running her life, and the life of her baby sister.
We needed to keep Carter and Quinny safe- and after exhausting ALL of our therapeutic and parenting options- we made a plan with her Developmental Pediatrician to try out Risperidone.

We started on the lowest dose possible (.25ml/ day), and since then, have never gone above (1.0ml/ day).

I say, Risperidone "takes the edge off", for her.
It allows her to grow, development, and soak in all of the therapeutic interventions, life skills, and actually FEEL the joys of life.

I've always said:
We have Quinny, and we have behaviors.
When the behaviors take over our Quinn- time for a new plan.

The scary bit- the bit that eats away little smidgens of my soul every day, is the knowledge that doctors and scientists really don't know the long term effects this and other drugs has on a developing brain.
Some docs say they are "safe", but in reality- there are not enough long term studies done to truly know.
It is the worst case scenario of guinea pig, I can think of.
And we're playing it.

Every. Single. Day. I ache with the uncertainty of our decision.
Are we doing the right thing?
Is this helping Quinny become the best Quinny she can be?

But when you have a four year old who self-harms and harms others- and you've been working your ass off with every doctor and therapist for four years, trying to holistically and naturally change such behaviors, constantly monitoring and intervening, never ONCE raising your hand to any of your children and even rarely raising your voice- we made the choice that was right for our child and our family.

Quinn's therapist said to us:
Would you deny a diabetic child, insulin?

And although Quinny's medication isn't keeping her alive- it is giving her the chemical make up she needs, to have a more functional brain- a more functional life.

Since the day she began taking Risperidone, to day present- we have not stopped reading, learning and trying new ways to reach and support Quinn.
We fall asleep with books on our tummies, have attended seminars and classes, always present at therapy sessions, picking the brains of those we trust, and we have spent over $8,000 this year alone (not including the extra money per month on better food), on supplements, Naturopathic Doctor, alternative therapies.

I haven't had a hair cut in over a year.
My eye brows haven't been waxed in maybe two years.
The make-up I wear, are the freebies from my Mom's Estee Lauder prize thingy.
Jake buys all (ALL) his clothes at Goodwill and Garage Sales, and I sew up holes and re-size/re-purpose clothing to extend their life.
We rarely eat out.
I trim the kid's hair every few weeks, so we only have to go in to the hair cutter once or twice a year.
We haven't been on a vacation for years.
Birthday and Christmas gifts are either homemade or under $30.
I gave up my weekly allowance (and did yard work for my parents every saturday morning at 5am) for months so I could fly to two weddings this summer.
We live in a (full of love and joy) two bedroom bungalow for God's sake!

We do this, so we can support our kids, our Quinn, in every way possible.

So that when my heart starts that daily aching- I can remind that pumper, that we truly are doing everything possible, and if in twenty years we find out that Risperidone was harmful- we will have peace.

But here is the gig:
If I just met someone, and they didn't know what all we do and have done for Quinny's supports but they knew we used medication- we would be judged and thought of in such a dark light.
And we have been.
And it hurts (it shouldn't- but it does). In fact it hurts maybe the most of any other kind of judgement- because when you put your entire soul into a process, like parenting, and someone smears such an intimate process, it soils not just who you are as a parent, but more so, who you are as a human.

There are two thoughts I want to leave this conversation with.

The first, is to encourage parents, who are or will be medicating their child- to do your homework.
To ask numerous doctor's opinions, read medical journal/studies on that particular medication.
Think about and research alternative ways to boost your child's systems with FOOD and supplements (endless research on how different types of food can create cognitive, emotional, physical and behavioral barriers).
Always incorporate THERAPY (how is a child to learn strategies for coping in life without strategies taught?)

The second: have conversations, ask questions, hand out helpful research information- but for goodness sakes- BE KIND! Drop the judgement and give a damn hug!
Most parents who are at the point of medicating their child, is living a very challenging journey. Even if you don't agree with their choices- encourage them with KINDNESS and love! Parenting is a hard gig with typical babes- add a wee one with special needs and hold on to your socks folks- the more hugs and acts of kindness, the better!

1 comment:

  1. Jill, I would love to cut your hair for you. Gratis. I know it's not a huge gift, but I have been doing it for over 10 years and I know how much a difference a simple cut can sometimes make. email me if you are interested (and I will in no way be upset if not). You're an amazing, inspiring Mama. xoxo