Category Archives: Medical

Medication Usage: Risk versus Benefit Decisions

Autism the Way I See It

Medication Usage: Risk versus Benefit Decisions

by Temple Grandin, PhD


There has been much publicity lately about the hazards associated with certain medications such as antidepressants and pain relieving drugs for arthritis. It has raised concern among parents whose children already use medications and made more ardent skeptics of parents who already are hesitant to use drugs with their child.

All medications have risks. When making decisions about medication usage, the benefits should clearly, not marginally, outweigh the risks. Common sense dictates that drugs with a higher risk of bad side effects should be used more carefully than drugs that have low risk. A reasonable approach for parents to keep in mind is that a drug with a lower risk of side effects should be tried first.

To approach medication decision-making in a logical manner, it is best to follow these four principles. These principles assume that non-drug approaches have already been tried and proved unsuccessful in alleviating the challenge.

  • Try one medication at a time so you can judge its effect. Do not change educational programs or diet at the same time a new drug is tried. Keeping a journal of the child