Medication Nation: Children’s Health in Peril
Here’s a recent article I wrote for Huffington Post:
Sarah Clark was worried about her 3-year-old daughter. Adrienne had multiple temper tantrums an hour, hour after hour, and their house was constantly filled with her screaming. Sarah worried, too, about the affect the unrest might be having on her older son. Sarah and her husband doubled down on their discipline tactics, and on the advice of their pediatrician, they took Adrienne to a child psychologist. After several sessions the psychologist suggested ADHD medication. When none of that worked, the child psychologist recommended Adrienne be put on an anti-psychotic medication called Risperdal.
“Excuse me?” Sarah asked, thinking she’d heard the doctor incorrectly. “Are you suggesting that my 3-year-old is bipolar?” Sarah works as a speech therapist for an elementary school district. As a result, she knows a fair amount about Risperdal, and what it’s used for. She’s seen kids and their haggard parents come through her office door, and the kids who are on Risperdal are literally sedated.
“That’s exactly what I’m thinking,” the doctor replied.
Sarah sought a second opinion. This time she attended without Adrienne, and was careful not to let the psychiatrist hear her desperation. She wanted an objective assessment, not one colored by her distress. This time the psychiatrist said, “It sounds like your daughter is on the Asperger’s scale,” and she, too, suggested Risperdal.
“I’m a speech therapist,” Sarah told the doctor, “and I know what Asperger’s looks like. My daughter does not have Asperger’s. What’s more, you haven’t even seen her. How can you make that assessment?” The doctor suggested that Sarah was in denial.
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