Autism is one PDD that cant be cured (yet), but the behaviors and symptoms can be controlled and managed in many ways. These pdd medical treatments include behavioral interventions, medication, and lifestyle and dietary changes. Because theres no known cause for autism, its not easy to say which treatments will work for which children. For parents, national support groups for autism say its frequently a matter of trial and error until they find a recipe of treatments that seems to work best for their child.
Antipsychotics, antihypertensives and antiepileptics are the three types of medications used to control behaviors in children with autism. Although many of these have been used with autistic children for years, not much actual research exists to demonstrate effectiveness statistically. Nor is it always clear why a particular medication works to control behaviors in autistic children.
Antipsychotics are usually used for controlling symptoms in psychiatric patients, but theyve been revealed to be effective in treating violent and aggressive behaviors in children with autism even though autism is not a psychiatric disorder.
- – Risperdal is the most commonly prescribed medication for autism. It helps to reduce explosive and violent behaviors. Of all the medications used to treat autism, it is the most well-tested. The side effects include weight gain, drowsiness, muscle stiffness and dizziness.
– Zyprexa is another antipsychotic thats often used to treat autism. It has the same effects and side effects as risperdal, though muscle stiffness is less common.
– Seroquel also offers the same benefits and side effects, but with less tendency to weight gain.
– Clozaril (clozapine) seems to have the same effects as risperdal, but has some serious side effects on suppressing bone marrow. Because of this, it requires biweekly blood tests.
Antiepileptics help tone down brain activity in patients who have seizures. This also has the effect of lessening aggressive and violent behaviors. Because there is a danger of liver damage or damage to bone marrow with these medications, they require regular blood testing while a child is using them.
- – Depakote is commonly prescribed to treat children with epilepsy or other seizure disorder. It can lessen explosive behaviors. Because many children with autism also suffer from seizure disorders, depakote is a primary treatment. The most serious side effect is possible liver damage, but other side effects include upset stomach and sedative effect.
– Tegretol offers the same benefits as Depakote, but may cause skin rash and bone marrow problems.
– Neurontin is used less often with children. It seems to have the same effects and side effects as Depakote.
Why medications designed to lower blood pressure should regulate violent outbursts in children with autism, no one is quite sure, but these medications do work. Some of them have serious side effects and require monitoring.
- – Inderal is the most commonly prescribed antihypertensive. The side effects include a sedative effect, low blood pressure, dizziness or fainting and an aggravation of asthmatic symptoms.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are prescribed for people suffering from depression. They prevent the body from reabsorbing serotonin, prolonging the effects of the bodys natural antidepressant. As with the other medications used to treat autism, its not certain exactly how the SSRIs reduce stereotypical and self-injurious behaviors, but they seem to work quite well.
- – Prozac is the most commonly prescribed of the SSRIs. The side effects include weight gain and agitation.
– Luvox is similar to Prozac, though less widely used. The side effects are similar, as are the benefits, except that Luvox doesnt appear to cause the agitation to the same degree, making it a better choice for some autistic children.
– Paxil and Zoloft are two other antidepressants often used to treat children with autism. Both are less likely to cause agitation, though the tendency to weight gain is more pronounced. Paxil may also cause rapid mood cycling and an increase in impulsive behaviors.