While most 15-year-olds are studying for a high school class or hanging out with friends, Sophia Brink is preparing to present original research on autism medication at UC Berkeley in April.
Brink is one of six Cañada College students to have their proposals accepted by the Bay Area Honors Research Symposium. Brink is Cañada’s youngest student to attend the conference and the only high school student. The title of her research is “Do All Autistic Children Need Medication?”
“My research analyzes the negative and positive effects of commonly used autism medications, which are psychiatric medications, anticonvulsants, and sedatives as well as alternative treatments, which are therapies, diets, ‘natural’ medication and a stabilized environment,” she said. “I’m very excited to have an opportunity to present my research before an audience at Berkeley.”
Brink is enrolled in the Cañada Middle College High School program. She is finishing her junior year of high school at the college while simultaneously taking college classes. She plans on majoring in psychology or neuroscience once she graduates from high school. “I would like to become a psychologist or a psychiatrist specializing in treatment for autistic children and adults.”
Brink is interested in the subject of autism because her 13-year-old brother was diagnosed
with autism spectrum disorder and epilepsy when he was four. He’s gone through extensive
treatments, which include taking medications.
“My brother experienced many side effects from the medications he took,” she said. “Many health professionals have prescribed medications with severe side effects to autistic children. As a result, many parents and health professionals created alternative treatments.”
Brink, who lives in San Mateo, said her research has taught her that different treatments are needed for different patients. “There are pros and cons with medications and alternative treatments,” she said. “Medications do not work with all autistic children and alternative treatments do not work with all autistic children. It depends on the child.”