Surveys indicate that nearly half of children with autism
spectrum disorders take some type of psychiatric medication —
most often antidepressants, antipsychotics, or stimulants. Yet a
federally funded study concluded that most of these drugs aren't
effective at treating symptoms of autism spectrum disorders.
Early intervention behavioral therapy, typically delivered at
home or in school, forms the foundation of treatment for autism
spectrum disorders. Unfortunately these therapies are labor- and
time-intensive, producing modest improvements at best. Parents
and clinicians, often desperate for additional options, have
increasingly turned to medications to alleviate symptoms such as
aggression, irritability, and repetitive behaviors, or to prevent
children from injuring themselves.
In an effort to provide clinicians and parents with better
information to guide treatment decisions, the U.S. Agency for
Healthcare Research and Quality asked investigators at the
Vanderbilt University Evidence-Based Practice Center to conduct a
review of research on various autism spectrum disorder treatments
for children 12 and younger.
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