A recent discussion at my local aspie gathering, and a lot of anecdotal evidence, suggests that we on the spectrum react very differently than NTs do, to a lot of medications. Sometimes we don’t react at all to a drug. Some drugs we react strongly (and negatively) to, and with yet others our reactions are totally different, even the reverse of, what’s ‘expected’, eg drugs given to calm us, making us more ‘hyper’ than ever. We often require much lower amounts than what is considered the ‘normal’ or ‘standard’ dosage.
Some doctors and psychiatrists, those who specialise in or have experience dealing with those on the spectrum, are apparently becoming more and more aware of this, and take it into account. But your average GP, especially if they have little or no experience with or awareness of people on the spectrum, will often express disbelief or even scoff at the idea that a particular drug could cause a certain reaction, or need to be lowered in dosage, simply because the patient is on the spectrum.
For instance, one man, used to taking a very low dose of a particular anti-depressant overseas, found when he first moved to New Zealand and asked his new doctor for a similar prescription, the doctor expressed disbelief and amazement that such a low dosage could have any effect at all – it being half what he considered the ‘absolute minimum’. Yet this man had found through experience and the support of a former doctor, that this was all he needed to keep himself emotionally stable.
Yet when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. It’s now a proven fact that we have a different neurological pattern, our brains work differently to those of NTs. More often than not, we have a high degree of sensory sensitivity, and many of us have multiple food sensitivities or allergies, and highly sensitive digestive systems. In short, our brains, our bodies and biochemistry, are different, so why shouldn’t we react differently to what’s put in them?
My own list of ‘no-no’ drugs is moderately long – aspirin, morphine, Tramadol, anti-histamines, codeine, prednisone, amitriptyline, sleeping tablets, Lipex (for high cholesterol), and the anti-inflammatory Diclofenac, aka Voltaren. All of these I have had negative, sometimes extreme, reactions to. Others report even longer lists, and even more extreme reactions.
So please, those on the spectrum, and/or who have children who are, don’t let doctors or indeed any so-called ‘expert’, bulldoze you into accepting dosages of any medication, for you and/or your child, that you don’t feel are ‘right’. If you can educate them, do so. If you can’t, stand firm anyway. You know yourself/your child best, not them.
And doctors/psychiatrists, please listen to your patients on the spectrum, when they tell you that a particular drug doesn’t work for them, or a parent of an autistic child tells you this. Consider prescribing much lower doses than usual, and proceed with caution. Be prepared for some medications not to work at all, to have the opposite effect to that intended, or to have ‘side-effects’ way beyond or different to ‘the norm’. It might be a good idea to record the different reactions you encounter, for future reference.
In short, everybody take care. Medication is a minefield for those on the spectrum.