I was told by a ‘specialist’ when I refused to give my son Ritalin that what I was doing was an “indirect form of child abuse as I was not offering him the window of opportunity to realise his full potential”. He was 3 years old. Yes, he was getting into trouble, yes he was a handful, yes he could be challenging! However, I stuck to my guns and at the age of 15 he now attends University one day a week and goes full time next year studying Software Engineering. I kind of think he is realising his potential drug free! Drugs are not always the only answer, if the answer at all for some.
Things were hard at times and it has not always been an easy journey. I am proud of my son and what he has achieved. He knows himself as he is – not a drugged version – and is doing well in all areas of his life and he is my friend as well as my son. He is diagnosed with ADHD/Aspergers and is Gifted but also has learning difficulties, namely dysgraphia. We have worked together to find solutions to problems without the use of drugs and I really had to fight hard to convince Drs, schools and the so called ‘specialists’ of whom we have seen many, that I felt my way was best. It is only now that I really know for sure that my way was the best for us and I am so proud of what we have achieved and that I stayed strong against those who tried to convince me otherwise. I hope that speaking out gives other parents the strength to follow their heart when sometimes it feels like you are really alone in your decisions. It may not always be the easiest of paths, but for us it was the right one and I hope that speaking out will encourage others to follow a similar path to our own.
On reflecting on why so many children seem to be given medication for conditions such as my sons, I cannot help but wonder if our children just need more of our time but unfortunately in this time poor age it is often somewhat lacking. I am not saying that medication does not have a place for some, but I think they are all too often given out without having tried any other interventions. Again a ‘time poor’ solution – drugs are a quick fix but do nothing for the underlying issues! My son is living proof that there are alternatives that are far better for both body and mind! It was often a lot of hard work and believe me when he was younger, I questioned my decision not to medicate at various times along our journey. Children with these conditions can be utterly exhausting. However, it is something I believed in and I am happy with my decision. I think we always need to support each other whatever our decisions and also find what works best for each individual case. I just like to get the word out that drugs are not always the answer and wish everyone the best whatever path they choose :0)