Friday, February 22, 2013

Protecting Children from Overprescription

Regular readers remember three young friends this web site has given the screen names of Blair, Chris, and Tina. Blair is a high-functioning autistic. Chris is in my opinion absolutely not autistic--he made eye contact and talked about emotional feelings without prodding the first time he and I met--but he's had some problems, can be shy, and was labelled autistic by greedheads at two (notoriously underachieving) schools. Tina is perceptually handicapped, to an extent that prevents normal academic progress and raises some doubt about her intelligence; she doesn't talk well at all, even to family friends, but she does show affection and, for her age, a healthy amount of empathy--and of course she also is shy, and has been labelled autistic.

In some of those Yahoo articles I've promised to rewrite and post here at some unspecified future time, I discussed the glaring hazards to all children implicit in allowing people who are physically intimidated by Chris (he's a big strong guy) to label him autistic. Since those articles were written Chris has reached age eighteen and has started a job with career potential. Meanwhile, Tina's case came along, and last year I wrote here about the pitfalls implicit in confusing the oldfashioned, boring disabilities Tina so obviously does have with the trendy one she doesn't have.

But the Adam Lanza story raises a new, disturbing issue. While Chris is probably safe, thank God, from the trendy overprescription of antidepressants, the sweetest, quietest teenaged girl I know is at risk for being made violently "medication" that won't help her medical condition in any way, but is being pushed as likely to help her feel better about it. Well, yes, Tina is old enough to notice that she's different from other teenaged girls, and not only in the sense of being prettier than average, which is something Tina's mother told me she experienced as a hardship too. So...does that mean she needs to be "treated" with pills that can potentially cause intense pain, spasms, pseudomemories of horrific physical abuse, and urges to kill self or others to spare self or others any more of the pain the pills cause? Or could it mean that she might need to be homeschooled, allowed to learn whatever she can on her own schedule, and given time to focus on making friends after she's old enough to mingle with people less judgmental than typical high school girls?

I don't want to need government protection from Tina! Nobody would ever need protection from Tina in her normal state of consciousness. I want my government to protect Tina from the overprescription of drugs that might alter Tina's consciousness into something more like Adam Lanza's. Tina has a severe astigmatism and a major hearing impairment, and may never be able to work with the public, but she's a nice, sane, sensible girl who enjoys working behind the scenes in her grandmother's business. I want my government to protect Tina's right to have a happy, healthy life in spite of the effects of a childhood illness, rather than forcing her to be a completely useless and dangerous burden to society.

Even Blair...I confess, Gentle Readers, I find Blair creepy. After co-workers, who are his grandparents, showed him around the place where we worked I've made no effort to get to know Blair or his family better. You speak to the kid, and he practically falls over? How could anybody enjoy being around a kid like that? But Blair, like almost all truly autistic patients, is harmless when not driven violently insane by drugs. From what high-functioning autistic patients report, the skewed, painful perceptions that lock autistic people into their own little world encourage them to leave others alone. If they lash out, as Donna Williams admits she did, it's only against those who try to force them to look at or listen to things that feel painful for them. Blair may be permanently disabled, taxpayers may need to pay for someone to keep him at home, but do taxpayers need to pay to make Blair dangerous?

If you don't like the idea that your taxes may be used to create more of Adam Lanza, here's a link to a short (3-4 pages) article by another doctor who's written another book on this topic. Although Hormones Health and Happiness seems to address depressive middle-aged women, and Joseph Glenmullen and Peter Breggin have more to say about the tremendous danger being created by prescribing antidepressants to children, Dr. Hotze's article is worth sharing with everyone who's still feeling grief over the Newtown murders.