Which medications are used in the treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD)?

Updated: Sep 30, 2019
  • Author: James Robert Brasic, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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No pharmacologic agent is effective in the treatment of the core behavioral manifestations of autistic disorder, but drugs may be effective in treating associated behavioral problems and comorbid disorders (eg, self-injurious behaviors, movement disorders). The possible benefits from pharmacotherapy must be balanced against the likely adverse effects on a case-by-case basis (eg, venlafaxine may increase high-intensity aggression in some adolescents with autism [9] )

Medications used in managing related behavioral problems and comorbid conditions in children with autism include the following:

  • Second-generation antipsychotics (eg, risperidone, aripiprazole, ziprasidone)

  • SSRI antidepressants (eg, fluoxetine, citalopram, escitalopram)

  • Stimulants (eg, methylphenidate)

  • Alpha-2 adrenergic receptor agonists (e.g., clonidine, guanfacine) [10]

See Treatment and Medication for more detail.

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