Pill Pushers

I just spoke with another autism mom. She was distraught because the neurologist who performed her son’s MRI had called to say he found evidence of possible/potential seizure activity. She was confused because the neurologist told her to give her son anti-seizure medication, regardless of the side effects and the uncertainty whether seizure activity is even occurring. She was angry because she felt like the neurologist just wanted to get off the phone and had no interest in addressing her questions.

Why are doctors pushing so much medication?

On his latest neurodevelopmental psychological exam, Martin tested strong, academically. Although he has just started first grade, he is functioning at a second-grade level. But, the mainstream doctor who oversaw the exam stressed, when Martin gets to third grade, where the curriculum requires inferential reasoning, he might fall behind; because he can’t attend well, he can’t form inferences, either.

We know attention remains a problem for Martin, Adrian and I assured the doctor. What can we do to address it?

“Medicate him,” the doctor replied.

Medicate him?

“Medication might really get him over the hump when it comes to attention,” the doctor said.

We’re trying some other approaches right now, I said. We’re excited to be starting treatment with Dr. Zelinsky, using a sensory approach to retraining the brainstem. And Martin’s autism symptoms, including attention, tend to get better in spurts, as his body heals. Maybe by third grade we’ll have attention up to par.

“Sometimes those types of treatments can help,” the doctor said. “Still, we should start medicating sooner, rather than later. Martin’s a tricky case. It’s not clear whether he will respond better to a stimulant, a depressant, or some combination of both. We’ll have to fiddle with dosages and drug types to see what works best. If we start right now, then by third grade we’ll have it figured out.”

Adrian and I told the doctor we would like to hold off and give ourselves time to think about the medication option. Then we thanked the doctor for his time and promised to keep him updated.

This particular doctor expressed surprise at Martin’s progress since he was last evaluated, two years ago. I explained what we had done to provoke the progress, including biomed, homotoxicology, and HANDLE therapy. The fact that Martin has come so far using those approaches did not seem to affect, at all, the doctor’s opinion that we should medicate. I am not necessarily against the medication option forever, and I certainly don’t judge parents who decide to medicate their children before trying what I consider more natural treatments. That being said, I am sick of mainstream doctors trying to push medication on us at every turn. Medicate, medicate, medicate.

To the fellow autism mom who called me this afternoon, I said:

“Make a list of your questions. Demand an appointment. Bring your husband. Request copies of the MRI results. Send them to your biomed doctor, your ophthalmologist, any of your specialists who know how to read MRI’s. Get all your questions answered. Then decide if medication is the right choice.”

Because sometimes medication is the right choice. And often it isn’t.

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