Our expert says:
There is no single best treatment package for all children with ASD. Medications are often used to treat behavioral problems, such as aggression, self-injurious behavior, and severe tantrums, that keep the person with ASD from functioning more effectively at home or school. The medications used are those that have been developed to treat similar symptoms in other disorders. Many of these medications are prescribed “off-label” This means they have not been officially approved by the MCC for use in children, but the doctor prescribes the medications if he or she feels they are appropriate for your child.
In 2006 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved risperidone (generic name) or Risperdal (brand name) for the symptomatic treatment of irritability in autistic children and adolescents ages 5 to 16. The approval is the first for the use of a drug to treat behaviors associated with autism in children. These behaviors are included under the general heading of irritability, and include aggression, deliberate self-injury and temper tantrums.
Olanzapine (Zyprexa) and other antipsychotic medications are used "off-label" for the treatment of aggression and other serious behavioral disturbances in children.
The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI's) are the medications most often prescribed for symptoms of anxiety, depression, and/or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in children with Autism. Only one of the SSRI's, fluoxetine, (Prozac®) has been approved by the FDA for both OCD and depression in children age 7 and older. Three that have been approved for OCD are fluvoxamine (Luvox®), age 8 and older; sertraline (Zoloft®), age 6 and older; and clomipramine (Anafranil®), age 10 and older. Treatment with these medications can be associated with decreased frequency of repetitive, ritualistic behavior and improvements in eye contact and social contacts. The FDA is studying and analyzing data to better understand how to use the SSRI's safely, effectively, and at the lowest dose possible.
Antipsychotic medications have been used to treat severe behavioral problems. These medications work by reducing the activity in the brain of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Among the older, typical antipsychotics, such as haloperidol, thioridazine, fluphenazine, and chlorpromazine, haloperidol was found in more than one study to be more effective than a placebo in treating serious behavioral problems. However, haloperidol, while helpful for reducing symptoms of aggression, can also have adverse side effects, such as sedation, muscle stiffness, and abnormal movements.
There are also many other options depending on what needs to be treated. Your doctor will therefore need to implement each treatement based on eachs childs behaviour.
All the best!
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