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Education: Special Needs

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Special Needs Digest

Medication and special needs children

What Can Medications Do
for My Special Needs Child?

by Jack Taulbee, Ed.M., M.A.

One of the most worrisome inquiries I get from parents deals with medication issues.  Since I am not a physician or a psychiatrist I cannot answer whether a medication is appropriate for the symptom(s) your child is experiencing, but I can help you to better understand what medications can and cannot do.

It is very important that we understand two things. Medications do not cure nor do they teach.  What they do is help to minimize interfering symptoms which so often prevent the child from controlling unwanted behaviors and/or help suppress the neurological “noise” in the child’s mind allowing the child to access much needed instruction.  This can help the child both at home and at school.

Both of these improvements create a better environment for communication between child and parent, or teacher.  When the child can hear without the emotional and mental smoke screens that neurological disorders produce opportunity for improvement is immediately created and progress is made.

We need to realize that medications can be valuable tools in helping the child succeed, however we must not rely on medications as a miracle cure for all the problems facing the special needs child. 

Think of it this way.  With know that glasses do not heal a child’s eye problems.  They do however help the child focus so they can see the words and begin the learning process.  No longer is the child’s disability preventing him from reading and being educated, however, at no time do we fool ourselves into believing that the glasses make the eye problems physically disappear.  Instead we see them as a tool that assists the child so they can gain access to printed language.

We should view medications in the same way.  They do not cure the neurological disorders nor do they teach the child.  Instead they help reduce the mental and emotional interferences in communication that prevent the child from experiencing life as others do.  Medications can have a valuable place in a special needs child’s life when they are accepted as a resource for which they were designed and intended.

JACK TAULBEE, Ed.M., M.A.

Jack Taulbee is the author of Understanding Children of Special Needs: What Every Parent Needs to Know.  To contact Jack or order his book, see his Web site.

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