Is Medication the answer?
Many families worry about whether they should medicate their child who is diagnosed with learning challenges. When asking, “Is medication the answer?”, it is not unusual for a family to have sought out the advise of many health and education professionals in addition to their paediatrician and paediatric psychiatrist before coming to a conclusion that suits their family and their child’s needs.
This is a very controversial question and needs an in depth understand to look for options to best put forward a conclusive argument.
Traditional medication via a script has been proven to make effective changes in the child’s brain when the diagnosis that is underpinning those challenges is accurately assessed and provided by a team of health professionals. These may include a Paediatrician, a Paediatric psychiatrist, a Speech Pathologist, an Occupational Therapist, a Psychologist and the Educational Team.
Some families choose to follow the alternative route for natural remedies by alterations to the child’s diet and provisions for nutritional supplements.
The outcomes and benefits are based on the diagnosis and often a child may go through a series of trials of various forms of treatments before settling for what is making the best impact on their learning and behaviour. It is an area, whereby similar symptoms can appear across an array of conditions. So in my experience, I would definitely be seeking the advise of qualified health professionals to support you in your decision making when you ask yourself, “Is medication the answer?”. The assessment involves collecting a thorough background case history that involves developmental milestones and behaviour, familial heritage and past educational records. Clinical assessments involve observations of the child in various settings and over different circumstances such as early in the day and later in the afternoon. Formal metric assessments are then undertaken to assess the impact on skills and functions for core skills such as language, cognition and literacy.
Certainly, no child is the same, however in saying that, there are definite patterns and similarities of specific diagnostic conditions. These are easily observed by health professionals who are experienced. What is important to understand is that some symptoms such as inattention, can come from quite an array of underpinning causes whereby certain medication may only provide beneficial and effective treatment for some. Some children may have:
- ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder)
- Sensory integration challenges
- Hypomanic behavioural traits
- Agitation from a brain injury or epilepsy
- Anxiety disorder or Post Traumatic Stress
What I do know is that children are supported best when they are given the chance to develop a relationship with their team of health providers. As they develop that relationship with their Specialists and Therapists, the professionals then gain a chance to observe the child over time and watch the impact of the treatment to determine what is the best cause of action to gain the best results. What I love about being a Speech Pathologist, is that we do get the chance to undertake longer term therapy programs as we are responsible for the correction of children speech,language, listening and literacy disorders. This enables us to have a very good viewpoint of a child’s actual capability and their impact of various treatments to determine which is most suitable for their education and treatment plan.
So in considering the question, “Is medication the answer?”, I draw on my 25 years of experience as a Certified Practicing Speech Pathologist. When diagnosed correctly, some medication is life changing for children and adults with learning disorders. This can help an individual achieve their highest potential academically, socially and vocationally.
Frankly, we all need our minds to be stable and operational for all the vital functions of life, whether we are young or old.