Kyle Warren was given his first dose of antipsychotic drugs to deal with his temper tantrums at 18 months. By age three, he’d been diagnosed with autism, bipolar disorder, hyperactivity, insomnia, and oppositional defiant disorder, and was taking a fistful of psychiatric medicine each day. He was, his parents tell the New York Times, a drooling, sedated, overweight zombie. “You’d look into his eyes and you would just see blankness,” says his mother.
Warren is just one of many young children who, critics fear, are being prescribed serious psychiatric medicine far too early. More than half a million children and adolescents in America are on antipsychotics, and the rate at which the drugs have been prescribed to kids between the ages of two and five doubled from 2000 to 2007. Kyle, now 6, has since been weaned off all but one of his pills, with the help of a doctor who says there was no valid medical reason to give him the drugs in the first place. “It’s disturbing,” she says.