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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Answer

Pharmacotherapy

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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