Join CafeMom Today! Autism Spectrum Disorder: Treatments: Autism Medications

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Autism Medications

No list of autism treatments would be complete without including medications. This seems to be about the only thing neurologists know how to do with autism, try X med or Y med + Z med. Parents of kids with autism often get accused of "experimenting on their kids", but no one experiments more on these kids than neurologists and psychologists. With that said, some of these may help. They do seem to be treating the symptoms in my opinion.


Medication

Medication may be used to treat various symptoms of autism (e.g., attention difficulties, anxiety) and can also be used to treat conditions that may accompany the disorder (e.g., epilepsy).

Depression, obsessive-compulsive behavior (OCD), and anxiety may be treated using antidepressants. These drugs often reduce the frequency and intensity of repetitive behavior; decrease irritability, tantrums, and aggression; and improve eye contact and responsiveness. Side effects include headache, insomnia, dizziness, and drowsiness. Medications include the following:

Benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium®), lorazepam (Ativan®), and alprazolam (Xanax®) may also be used to treat behavioral problems. Side effects include drowsiness, fatigue, lack of muscle coordination (ataxia), and dizziness. Discontinuing these drugs after long-term use may cause withdrawal symptoms including:

Antipsychotic medications such as clozapine (Clozaril®), risperidone (Risperdal®), olanzapine (Zyprexa®), and quetiapine (Seroquel®) may decrease hyperactivity, behavioral problems, withdrawal, and aggression in autistic patients. Side effects include the following:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Sedation

Stimulants such as methylphenidate (Ritalin®), amphetamine (Adderall®), and dextroamphetamine (Dexedine®) may also be prescribed for autism. These drugs may increase focus and decrease impulsivity and hyperactivity in high-functioning patients. Prolonged use of stimulants may lead to drug dependence. Side effects are often dose-related and include the following:

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