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Children do not grow out of autism. With appropriate intervention, however, they can be assisted to gain many of the skills we take for granted, such as learning to play, to communicate and to respond to others in a social way. People with autism benefit enormously from programs which provide them with a means to communicate and to develop the skills they need to participate in everyday life. With appropriate education, and the support of dedicated people, the person with autism can go on to lead a fulfilled life, engaging in social activities and vocational pursuits in later life.

How Do I Decide Whether Medication Or Another Form Of Intervention Is Right In Managing My Child's Autism?

The most important criterion when choosing an intervention is that the intervention is evidence-based. And this means that there are published research studies using control groups and placebos proving that the intervention is effective with children who have autism. Many interventions used today have no research support.
The two interventions with the best research support are medication and applied behavior analysis or behavior therapy. Published research studies demonstrate that medications can reduce symptoms associated with autism including mood and behavior problems, inattention and hyperactivity, obsessions and repetitive behavior, anxiety and sleep problems.

When considering medication, one needs to weigh the risks of using the medication with the risks of not using medication. If a child's symptoms interfere with functioning, cause the child or others emotional distress or pose a safety risk for the child or others, then medication may be a treatment option. And of course, medication should never be used alone. It should be combined with other interventions that have proven effectiveness with children who have autism such as applied behavior analysis.

What Are Some Of The Types Of Medications That Might Be Used To Treat Autism, And What Symptoms Are They Used To Treat?

Other associated symptoms that are not part of the three core symptom clusters, that do have medications for them, include aggression, which has an FDA approved medication (risperidone) and other antipsychotic agents with good scientific evidence that they help aggression.

The anticonvulsive mood stabilizers also are useful for aggression. And the anti-anxiety agents are sometimes useful because the aggression may be a symptom of kind of a fight or flight reaction.

Then the anxiety itself is a very ubiquitous problem in autism and may respond to an anti-anxiety agent. Hyperactivity is another very common problem that may respond to similar medications as with typically developing children with ADHD. Sleep is another problem area, and that may respond to a pharmacologic agent when other means of helping the child attain sleep fail.
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