Education, SEND, Autism, ADHD, hidden disability, Suzy Rowland, Events, Happy in School

Autism Conference The Rose Theatre

It’s always a pleasure to share the aims and passion of the #happyinschool project to parents. Being the parent of a child or children with autism or ADHD can be fraught, relentless; you can lose sight of yourself and your power in the rolling procession of appointments, teacher meetings and assessments.

For every assertive parent who sticks two fingers up at the medical and educational establishment, many more feel guilt, shame, tiredness, anger and confusion, often not knowing what to do next. When you work full-time, it’s can be a strain to commit fully to your job, whilst meeting your parental obligations. And it’s not just attending the meetings, and digesting all of the information, it’s about all of the decisions you need to make. Decisions that could affect your child or young person’s life forever. I’ve been there AND got the tee-shirt. Literally.

#happyinschool ready to roll at the Rose Theatre
#happyinschool information & emPOWerment sessions for parents and educators, enabling children with autism and ADHD to be #happyinschool

It was great to see some familiar faces and meet quite a few new ones at the Express CIC Autism conference.  The gallery space at Rose Theatre was light and airy, it was great to see so many families. I look forward to seeing more of you at the forthcoming #happyinschool sessions. The aim is to cover the big issues, breaking them into manageable chunks. Dicing up the information that’s useful and relevant to you, making it easier for you to use practically as you work with the educationalists and other professionals to support your child. It’s fun, emotional, interactive but the best bit is this: we do it together, supporting each other as we go.

Express Autism Conference – full house for #happyinschool session

I’d like to leave you with a few motivational words:

“Empowered we all move forward in knowledge.”

© Suzy Rowland

Education, SEND, Autism, ADHD, hidden disability, Suzy Rowland

Use of medicines to treat autism

Children with autism and intellectual disability are being prescribed medication that has been formulated to treat psychotic conditions like schizophrenia. See link below to an article published in The Conversation below.

Many careers ago, I worked in the pharmaceutical industry and discovered it’s not uncommon for medicines to be prescribed to treat conditions other than the they one were initially developed for. For example, it was discovered that certain drugs designed to treat heart and vascular conditions, had the interesting side effect of increasing libido. Enter stage right the little blue diamond tablet and the rest, as they say, is history!

When drugs come to market, they have usually been years in research and development followed by extensive testing. Once the medicine is deemed safe, it is published in the British National Formulary (BNF) which catalogues all drug formulations, indications (uses) and recommended dosages. The BNF a great tool for prescribing professionals and can be seen as a best practice guide.

boy child clouds kid
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on

So, in theory, prescribing ‘off-label’ is not a bad thing per se, but my cautionary note would be for parents to ask the following four questions, if they are not given this information in a consultation:

  1. What class of medication your child is being given (e.g. antidepressant, antipsychotic, stimulant?)
  2. How does it work?
  3. How will be help my child? Or what symptom is it being prescribed for?
  4. What sort of side effects might there be?

I don’t think being rigidly anti-medication for these complex brain conditions or mental health illnesses is necessarily helpful. But as parents, we owe it to our children to be well-informed and clear about the treatment regime and its possible impact. It is also vital to share information about how your child might react in any given circumstance, particularly if there is anxiety, oppositional behaviour or mutism in the mix. A skilled and compassionate physician will surely listen to your concerns and provide any reassurances you may need.

[There are some instances where autistic children are given medication without direct parental consent, if the child is in the care of the local authority for example or in a specialist school. This can be challenging and where possible, it’s a good idea to draw up a contract concerning ongoing and emergency medication use, which both parties agree to in writing.]


© Suzy Rowland