What are the possible adverse effects of medications 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

Children with autistic disorder appear sensitive to medication and may experience serious adverse effects that outweigh any beneficial effects. For example, children may develop catatonia when treated with haloperidol and other traditional neuroleptics. [169, 170] Additionally, Kem et al noted priapism in an adolescent with autism who was treated with trazodone. [171]

Practice guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics stress the importance of having some quantifiable means of assessing the efficacy of medication used for the treatment of children with autism. Validated, treatment-sensitive rating scales that have been used in clinical practice to measure the effects of treatment on maladaptive behavior include the Clinical Global Impression Scale, the Aberrant Behavior Checklist, and the Nisonger Child Behavior Rating Form. [172]


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