Autistic Consultant & British Psychologist, Wenn, leading by example to empower autistic individuals and promote quality co-produced research

Diagnosis brought 25 years of pain

This is an article which appeared in the Warrnambool Standard Newspaper).

After 25 years of taking medication for a wrongly diagnosed disorder, Wenn Lawson is now tackling the issue on television and in a book. (code: 00723DW10)

WENN Lawson knows what it is to suffer due to the wrong medical prescription.

Wrongly diagnosed as being schizophrenic when he really had autism spectrum disorder, the successful Warrnambool academic and author suffered the misery of 25 painful years of inappropriate medication.

Wenn has just returned from the UK where he featured in a new BBC documentary focusing on the incorrect prescription of anti-psychotic drugs for people who had autism spectrum disorder, or ASD.

"I'm not angry about what happened to me, because it was ignorance. I didn't have a correct diagnosis at that stage but I am very angry that it is continuing to happen to other people," she said.

Wenn said the documentary revealed that the wrong prescription of anti-psychotic drugs for people with autism spectrum disorder was continuing, causing a wide range of damaging side effects, although the extent of the problem was unclear.

"For me it caused constipation, blurred vision, a dried mouth and it caused me to drift in and out of a zombie state and worsened the effects of autism spectrum disorder," he said.

Wenn said that after a correct diagnosis in 1996 he stopped taking anti-psychotic medication.

Although his life improved dramatically since then, he said years of taking anti-psychotic medication had left him with the legacy of occasional involuntary limb movements.

The documentary, which screened in the UK recently, showed the inappropriate prescription of anti-psychotic medication for people with ASD could also cause epileptic attacks, heart and weight problems, Wenn said.

"I can't quote figures (as to the extent of the problem) in Australia but I do know, via the Internet, that lots of parents think anti-psychotic medication will help their (ASD) child with aggression and anxiety."

"It will not help unless the child has a psychotic disorder as well as autism spectrum disorder."

Following the success of her first book, Life Behind Glass, a personal account of autism spectrum disorder, Wenn has completed a second book of ways to improve life for children with ASD. The new book, titled Life Within Grasp, is due for release in January.

(Report: EVE LAMB)