Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Is Abilify® Safe for Children with Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurobiological condition that cannot be cured. Although medications do not fully alleviate the symptoms, it is common for physicians to prescribe a variety of medications to help improve a child with Autism’s outlook and circumstances.

Anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and drugs for hyperactivity are all commonly used to lessen the effects of social anxiety, depression, fear, sensory issues, and additional emotional distresses that can cause problems for children with ASD.

With trial and error, the correct medication course and dosage can make all the difference in the life of a child with Autism or ASD. Medication, while not appropriate for all children with Autism, can change the course for some children, allowing for a life of independence.

Researchers are working to find medications that can be used to treat the symptoms of ASD in children. Some medications can serve dual purposes, like an anti-seizure medication that also happens to be a mood stabilizer. Finding safe medication choices for citizens is a job that the US Food and Drug Administration takes very seriously.

Researchers, physicians, parents, and patients can feel relatively certain that when a drug is approved by the FDA for pediatric use, it is safe to use in that capacity. Recently, the FDA approved the drug Abilify® to treat irritability in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. You can read the official announcement from Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and the FDA here:

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums in Aspergers Children


Mark V in Minnesota said...

5 years since AS diagnosis of my now 10 year old son. It been a road of daily tantrums, increasing agression, school problems, family crisis, and all encompassing efforts to intervene. We've experienced thousands of hours of therapy, sensory integration, counseling, in-home behavioral intervention, desparation, and recently (4 months ago) a prescription of Ambilify. This has been an absolute gift to our wonderful son and to our lives as well. No side effects, only positive response that has helped him to maintain control during most challenging social situations.

Mrs. V said...

Mark V in Minnesota...I am wondering what dose of ambilify your son is on? Also was wondering if he has ever been on any other meds?

Anonymous said...

My friend's grandson was admitted to the hospital today after being prescribed abilify with a life-threatening reaction to the drug.

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Becki said...

I have a 5 year old son who was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD and also possesses the traits of asperger's and bi polar disorder. I've been looking into the treatment for each on my own and I was told abilify may help him, can someone give me any information on this?

tina said...

my son is 6yrs old and is on the spectrum and has ocd and anxiety. He started taking Abilify about 10 days ago and seems like he's yelling more, more frustrated and I'm not sure if I'm just not giving it a chance or is this a side effect that I should stop the medicine?? I am so nervous with this medicine and it's side effects?

Anonymous said...

I was wondering how many people have experienced the weight gain as a side affect with abilify?? Has anyone exerienced decreased appetite and weight loss?? My son has lost his appetite and has now been prescribed an appetite stimulant since the abilfy/focalin combination seems to be working really well for him.


My 16yr son, has been taking abilify for 1-1/2. We went from 5mg to 2.5mg now back on 5mg (about 3-days). He has gain weight but also being in the house not doing much activities has contributed to weigh gain. He also went through the growth spurt. I would say a combination of all did make him gain weight. that is great that abilify/focalin combo is working for your son. It made my son angry and moody. As of now, he is taking abilify and clonodine. He psych will not give him any ADHD. He is forgetful but who is to know it's just being a typical teenager.


My sons both gained weight on abilify (20 pounds in 12 weeks-- each). 6.8% of kids gain weight on abilify which is a small percentage which is why our psych did not feel it was necessary to bring it up beforehand. Yargh! Also in some people it can change your metabolism to a pre-diabetic state which is what it was doing in our kids: without any change in caloric intake, hunger or physical activity, their bodies began to gain weight.

Some studies have shown that if you take METFORMIN (aka Glucophage, a very safe blood sugar drug diabetics have been taking for decades) at the same time as the Abilify, it will negate any weight gain. Our pediatrician would not let us try this. I am not sure why.

My son takes Focalin (as do I) and yes, it REALLY takes away your appetite. Which is good for me! My son has always been in the 97+ percentile on weight so it's never been an issue for him to not have appetite 8 hrs / day, he makes up for it at night. He is in a normal weight for his height right now, not really heavy like before. Thank you growth spurt! He only gets 1500 calories per day. that helps



After a very troublesome year transitioning into middle school we have just started Abilify with our 12 year old that has autism, ADHD, sensory and anxiety issues, and is cognitively impaired. We kept all other meds (stimulants, Trileptol, Zoloft) the same but added Abilify to mornings only. He had the first good day in weeks. Its so encouraging to us but I know its just one day. any thoughts?


My daughter has experienced a ton of stomach aches, sometimes they also include a headache, and often she says she will vomit, although she rarely does. It seems to be when we try to get her to do a non-preffered activity, (bedtime, cleaning, going somewhere.) It also happens at school during times when other children are misbehaving, or every Monday morning. I am sure it is stress related and started giving her calmes forte by hylands. That has seemed to help, we also do daily probiotics. I have wondered about food intolerance but it seems too closely related to life situations for that, and it was never a real big deal until this year (7 and 8yrs old.)

Anonymous said...

keeping it short ... my 17 year old son has been on 5 mg of Abilify for about three years. He is doing much better. No bad melt downs since starting it. Close a couple of times. Put on a little weight - still in normal range. Often tired.

Anonymous said...

My 7yr old son was put on Abilify and has had the stomach problems as well. Throws up after eating, or acts as if he is going to throw up then doesn't. He complains of his head hurting.

Anonymous said...

My son is 6 years old and taking 10 mg of abilify. We started with 2 mg and his psych. doctor increasing the dosage every month. We went to other psych. doctor and the same word increase the dosage. He's been taking abilify for almost a year but,he became violent and agitated. A year ago he was 45 lbs, now he is 75 lbs. It's hard to find the right doctor especially if your using Tricare.

Anonymous said...

Both of my boys(they have aspie) have taken Clonodine when they were seeing a regular peds physician, Then I switched them over to a physiatrist when my oldest was in the 3rd grade and my youngest was in kindergarden and right away she took them off of Clonodine and put them on Melotonin. They are now in 9th and 6th grade. The clonodine didn't cause them to have nightmares but my oldest does talk in his sleep but I don't think that's the clonodine causing it because he still does it after being off of it. Their doctor doesn't like clonodine because she feels it's just not safe enough for kids. Melotonin does work great for the kids and I've even given it to my daughter who doesn't have aspies. My advice to you is to trust your instincts. If you feel it's safe then go with that but if you feel it's not safe then talk to your child's doctor about your concern and if you feel that they aren't taking you seriously, then put your foot down and make them listen.

Melissa Knecht said...

My 15 year old son started Abilify 2 months ago, along with Intuniv and while his physical aggression towards people has slowed down, his tantrums and destroying property problem hasn't stopped. He recently broke a window. He has been exhibiting some side effects that he hasn't had before and the doctor doesn't want to stop the medication. She just reduced the Intuniv. I am very frustrated right now as I don't feel I am getting any help and my son and family is suffering.

Angela C said...

My 11 year old Aspie son has been on Abilify 5mg for 5 months now. This medication has been a life saver for our entire family. We were literally on the brink of breaking the family apart because the anger and aggression was so bad. I just can't say enough great things. My son has gained about 15 lbs and his appetite has increased somewhat but he was on the smaller side when he started the med so we are okay with his weight gain. My son is doing great in school, making tons of friends (that never happened before) he is playing baseball ( and loving it for a change) getting ready to try out for the basketball team ect... We lucked out with a great psych dr and I am forever greatful for both the Abilify and the Dr for saving our son from a life of torment.

J said...

We have never used medications for our Aspie. He's 13 now but we did do dietary modifications, supplements, frequent low dose chelation, adrenal support, amino acids, homeopathy. Today he bears very little symptoms of Asperger's. For some children there seems to be a biological component that when addressed helps. Like fungal overgrowth, and in our case we had to treat heavy metals, fungal overgrowth, gut bacteria and nutritional deficiencies. It's been worth it so if you find medications aren't getting you where you feel your child should be, look at biomedical interventions.

jackie colbree said...

Wondering how is going now. We have a 16 year old just starting 2.5 mg. Im nervous

Del said...

Hi. How is it going for your child ?
My son is 9 and started yesterday.


Chelsea McInnes said...

My daughter started today. She is 8. Maybe we could chat as we are both starting at the same time? I am very nervous about the side effects. Today she is very hungry, stomach pains and tired. I imagine she feels "different" due to the meds and this is how she explains it?

Del said...

Hi Chelsea. I have replied to your message but not directly as a post but as a reply to your notification email. Did you receive it?
If not I'll reply directly on here .
Thanks and would be great to communicate.

Brenda Guin said...

What kind of reaction??? My daughter just took her first dose an hour ago and I would love to know what to look for, worst case senario

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the Aspergers child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and the Asperger’s child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

Although Aspergers is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager with Aspergers are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the Aspergers teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

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Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

Parenting children with Aspergers and HFA can be a daunting task. In layman’s terms, Aspergers is a developmental disability that affects the way children develop and understand the world around them, and is directly linked to their senses and sensory processing. This means they often use certain behaviors to block out their emotions or response to pain.

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Older Teens and Young Adult Children With Aspergers Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with Aspergers face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

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Living with an Aspergers Spouse/Partner

Research reveals that the divorce rate for people with Aspergers is around 80%. Why so high!? The answer may be found in how the symptoms of Aspergers affect intimate relationships. People with Aspergers often find it difficult to understand others and express themselves. They may seem to lose interest in people over time, appear aloof, and are often mistaken as self-centered, vain individuals.

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Online Parent Coaching for Parents of Asperger's Children

If you’re the parent of a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, you know it can be a struggle from time to time. Your child may be experiencing: obsessive routines; problems coping in social situations; intense tantrums and meltdowns; over-sensitivity to sounds, tastes, smells and sights; preoccupation with one subject of interest; and being overwhelmed by even the smallest of changes.

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Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Parents, teachers, and the general public have a lot of misconceptions of Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism. Many myths abound, and the lack of knowledge is both disturbing and harmful to kids and teens who struggle with the disorder.

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

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to read the full article...

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