Parents' Reflections on Use of

Medications for Children With FASD
2004 Teresa Kellerman

Here is a mother's reflection on use of medications for her alcohol-exposed children:

I think that medications are an issue we all struggle with, and the long and the short of it is, all our kids are different. I know my preference would be to have my children free of medications, but I have watched my son with FAE bite his nails until they bleed, go night after night without sleep, crawl under a desk to escape the over stimulation of a classroom and beg me to just let him stay under the covers of his bed forever.  Without the meds he takes for anxiety and depression I don't think he could function outside our home, and I believe in his case, that this is based in his neurology, not in pathology or due to anything traumatic in his past. I have also seen the downside of him being on the WRONG medications, and yes it is a nightmare.  Stimulants made him worse, Depakote made him throw furniture in complete rages, and Luvox made him completely disinhibited.  Our shrink has said we will know when he is able to remove some of his meds, if ever, and I tend to believe it.  For my kid, they have been a good thing. I think he would be suicidal without them.  But I sure wish he didn't have to take them.

My younger son is adopted and alcohol-exposed also.  After 4 years of having his teacher's in elementary school say "He is a bright kid but" (He interrupts constantly, fidgets 24/7 distracts everyone in class,  acts inappropriately in groups, finishes his work before everyone else and then starts singing, etc etc.) I decided to call his old social worker and ask if there was any history of ADHD in the family. This child has 4  half siblings on his birth mother's side and 8 on his birth father's side.  (That's right - 12 half brother's and sisters!)  All 4 of his sib's on Mom's side are in foster care, one very  disturbed. (Mom has mental health issues)  The other three are doing well in school but they are ALL on Ritalin for ADHD.  On the Father's side most of the sibs are grown.  Many of them have problems with drug and alcohol abuse, others are doing fine. This boy's birth father died of complications related to alcohol abuse at the ripe old age of 54.  So, a nice strong thread of "bright but ADD" and "self medicating" runs in his family's bio background.  I started him on the lowest possible dose of Ritalin I could last year, and it has made a huge difference in how he is doing in school. I give him breaks from it at home sometimes, and I must say, it doesn't take long before he drives me insane.  He cannot stop touching-talking-moving, etc., but does eat like a horse.  So, it's a balancing act with him. We go on lots of bike rides when he's off his meds. 

 All I know is we are a bunch of chemicals running around in some skin.  To me there is huge difference between medicating kids just to keep them quiet and giving them the chemicals they need to be on an even playing field with everyone else. I struggle with this too, and I wish there were an easy answer. 


Article about medications that have been successfully used for treatment of children and adults with FASD:

Article about the risks of medications for children with FASD:


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