Pharmacologic therapies aid treatment for autism

Lindsay, Ronald L.; Aman, Michael G.
October 2003
Pediatric Annals;Oct2003, Vol. 32 Issue 10, p671
Academic Journal
journal article
In the absence of other guidelines, practitioners often prescribe by analogy with roles of psychotropic medicines in other psychiatric disorders (e.g., the ability of serotonergic antidepressants to reduce compulsive behavior). There is a slow but steady accumulation of data supporting the use of psychotropic medications to manage certain symptoms in children with autism. These data support the use of stimulant medications for attention/hyperactivity symptoms, with willingness to suspend such treatment if a trial is unsuccessful. Risperidone is supported for other disruptive behaviors, especially of an irritable/disruptive nature, but with attention to increases in appetite and weight. SSRIs and atypical antipsychotics may be helpful for a variety of perseverative behaviors, although one would seldom prescribe antipsychotic medication for mild perseverative behavior alone. SSRIs may be useful for anxiety. Again, there is no compelling evidence that existing pharmacologic treatments have a major role in treating the core symptoms of autism, especially the profound impairments in social interaction and communication. Further well-designed double-blind studies with significant numbers of subjects and defined target symptoms will provide the data that will guide therapeutic decisions in the future.


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