Stuart MacVicar says that he does not know where his wife Christine or his son Andrew are after the pair illegally left Scotland for Spain in order to get Andrew, who has Asperger's syndrome, off of drugs that he was legally required to take:
Andrew was taken into care two years ago after being diagnosed with schizophrenia and was forced to take a course of medication under a compulsory treatment order.
Stuart says the cocktail of drugs robbed his son of his personality.
He said: “We have watched as our bright and independent son changed into another person before our very eyes. It was getting to the stage where he was no longer living, he was just existing.
“We were worried about him taking his own life.”
I hope that any parent considering medication for an autistic child will read Beth Arky's piece inspired by recent research showing that most kids with an ASD are on psychotropic medication:
While there is no medication that affects the core symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD)—difficulties with communication, social interaction and restricted, repetitive behaviors—these kids are being treated for conditions often associated with autism, including anxiety, hyperactivity, and aggression.
The drugs clinicians are increasingly prescribing are aimed at curbing a range of problematic and sometimes dangerous behavior patterns that include everything from sleep disorders to violent meltdowns. These episodes aren't a toddler's tantrums; autistic children unable to express their anger and anxiety, regardless of how verbal they might be, may become so overwhelmed they put themselves and other family members at risk. Some examples: breaking glass, throwing heavy objects, biting and head-butting. The fact that they often have sensory issues dysregulates them further; if a caregiver yells at a child in an effort to rein in behavior, it tends to have the opposite effect.
Beth talked parents, doctors, and self-advocates, including me:
This notion angers former teacher and advocate Landon Bryce, who blogs at thAutcast. "I think if medication worked as well as doctors, parents and school administrators like to pretend it does, this would make a lot of sense," he says. "But it doesn't. You are talking about giving kids meds to make them more manageable. You are talking about making them stupider—I never taught a kid who did not feel that way about his meds—in the hope of helping them learn more. That is stupid."
Dr. Elliott says that with younger children, under 5 or 6, he "absolutely pushes" for other types of behavioral interventions with the child and family first to address problem behaviors. But he acknowledges that society's expectations and a lack of resources can prevail over this approach. "School tells the family, 'We can't keep your child in this classroom because of his behavior, so why don't you try medication?'" he says. "There can be a real pressure to do it."
It's exactly this type of outside pressure that has Bryce up in arms. "I spent 20 years as a classroom teacher," he says. "I was consistently alarmed at the pressure parents are under to medicate their children and the pressure on kids to continue taking medication that they hate being on. I think medicated kids are easier to control. I think they are much harder to teach."
It's an honor to be included in an important piece of writing like this, with smart people like Ari Ne'eman, Jennifer Byde Myers, and and Shannon Des Roches Rosa.
Sources close to the negotiations say that Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay $2.2 billion to end investigations into claims that it illegally marketed Risperdal and other drugs:
The settlement, which might be announced this week, will include a misdemeanor plea and criminal penalty of as much as $600 million, said the people, who didn’t want to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the agreement. The accord also would resolve civil claims that J&J paid kickbacks to Omnicare Inc. (OCR) (OCR), a company that dispenses drugs at nursing homes, the people said.
The agreement, which doesn’t end claims by some states, would be the government’s second-biggest settlement with a pharmaceutical company, behind a $2.3 billion pact Pfizer Inc. (PFE) (PFE) entered in 2009 to resolve U.S. investigations of improper marketing of its Bextra painkiller and other drugs.
“This is a gigantic settlement that reflects the seriousness of the criminal and civil allegations against J&J over Risperdal and the other drugs,” Carl Tobias, who teaches product-liability law at the University of Richmond law school, said in a phone interview.
Much more on Risperdal and autism here.
Adam Lambert's video for "Never Close Our Eyes" shows the hero refusing to take his meds and leading an escape from a huge depersonalizing institution. It's fabulous!
Cheryl White's autistic son Josh was allowed to consume ten milligrams of ritalin when a principal at George W. Nebinger Elementary School in Philadelphia was giving the boy medication. The school has a nurse only one day a week, as the district has laid off about 90 nurses since last summer. The district says school staff will get more training on medication. Josh's mom says he won't be going back to that school.
Note: I apologize for originally posting that he had consumed 10 GRAMS of ritalin. Thank you, Ryley, for making me see this mistake.