One of the most difficult decisions that I have had to make as a parent of children with disabilities is whether to give my child medication.
My son was diagnosed at age 6 with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD). I can remember that day like it was yesterday (though my child is now almost 16 years-old and a sophomore in high school). I left that doctor’s office in tears, holding a prescription for ADHD medication in my hand.
I could drive home, but I was so preoccupied with my thoughts that I drove on autopilot. I expected the diagnosis, and I requested the medication, but once it was in my hands, all confidence flew out the window and all the guilt and second-guessing flew in.
I put the prescription in a desk drawer and tried to continue as before—before the appointment. I was having a hard time getting past the stigma of ADHD being the result of bad parenting. The other stigma I had a hard time fighting was the belief that “parents who medicate are just lazy.”
After a few days of taking a break from thinking about my dilemma, I could see through the stigmas. I could see what my child needed and what was best for him. He was only 6 years-old and already had bad self-esteem.
One of his symptoms from ADHD is having no impulse control. This made him feel bad about himself because he wanted to be able to control himself and make good choices. We were already using behavior modification techniques which helped to some degree but were not enough. It was a chemical imbalance that was beyond his control. The medication would help with this.
He needed more help and it was my job to make sure he got that. It was my job to give him the tools to help him succeed. It turns out that it was one of the best decisions that I have made as a parent.
My job is to advocate for my child and to make sure he gets the services and health care he needs. My son has a disorder that requires medication just like any other health problem. He needed his medication just like someone that has high blood pressure needs theirs.
My best advice is to remember to trust yourself. Sometimes putting the final decision aside for a day or two can help. Get all the facts and then take the time you need to be comfortable with your decision.
Connecting with other parents can help with making these decisions – check out Connecting with Other Parents on this website.
As a parent to a child with special health care needs, we often must learn little tricks to get things done. Each month Marty shares some of the tips and tricks she has learned along the way.