Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders


Drugs to Treat Aspergers Symptoms


Our 8-year old son was recently diagnosed with Asperger's/ADHD. The psychologist said the next step is to meet with our family doctor to prescribe meds to help him be more successful in 3rd grade. While he is doing well academically, it takes him a couple of hours to complete 30 min. of homework every night, and he is having behavior problems in school. Are medications our only option to help him with behavior? He attends a private school which does not have a counselor, but the teacher and principal have been really working with us to help him function in class. This is very overwhelming for us-problems at school and our home life so stressful. Our parenting techniques we used on our first two sons definitely don't work with our Asperger son who is very defiant and rude. Yikes--where do we start?


There is no one specific medication for Aspergers. In some cases, specific target symptoms are treated with medication though (e.g., a stimulant for inattention and hyperactivity; an SSRI such as Paxil, Prozac or Zoloft for obsessions or perseveration and associated depression and anxiety; low dose antipsychotic such as risperidone for stereotyped movements, agitation and idiosyncratic thinking).

SSRI medications are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors that are effective in treating many cases of anxiety and depression. The medicine may improve a few of the problematic symptoms of Aspergers including:

• Aggression
• Anxiety
• Depression
• Hyperactivity
• Impulsiveness
• Repetitive movements
• Self-injurious behaviors
• Self-stimulatory behaviors

Antipsychotic medications are also considered. Thought processes that are typical of Aspergers can be the source of great stress. Among the most stressful is transitioning and dealing with changes. Some behaviors result from thought processes that are obsessive in nature. The Aspie is unable to tolerate changes in routine and may become fixated on order. Antipsychotics alleviate the anxiety associated with obsessive thinking patterns and compulsive behavior. Other symptoms antipsychotic medications may address include:

• Idiosyncratic thought processes
• Irritability
• Repetitive movements
• Self-stimulatory behaviors

Common medications include:

• Abilify (This drug may be effective for treating irritability related to Aspergers. Side effects may include weight gain and an increase in blood sugar levels.)
• Celexa
• Intuniv (This medication may be helpful for the problems of hyperactivity and inattention in children with Aspergers. Side effects may include drowsiness, irritability, headache, constipation and bedwetting.)
• Lexapro
• Paxil
• Prozac
• Revia ( This medication, which is sometimes used to help alcoholics stop drinking, may help reduce some of the repetitive behaviors associated with Aspergers.)
• Risperdal (This medication may be prescribed for agitation and irritability. It may cause trouble sleeping, a runny nose and an increased appetite. This drug has also been associated with an increase in cholesterol and blood sugar levels.)
• Zoloft
• Zyprexa (Olanzapine is sometimes prescribed to reduce repetitive behaviors. Possible side effects include increased appetite, drowsiness, weight gain, and increased blood sugar and cholesterol levels.)

Other examples of alternative therapies that have been used for Aspergers include:

• Avoidance diets— Some parents have turned to gluten-free or casein-free diets to treat Aspergers. There's no clear evidence that these diets work, and anyone attempting such a diet for their child needs guidance from a registered dietitian to ensure the child's nutritional requirements are met.
• Melatonin— Sleep problems are common in kids with Aspergers, and melatonin supplements may help regulate your child's sleep-wake cycle. The recommended dose is 3 mg, 30 minutes before bedtime. Possible side effects include excessive sleepiness, dizziness and headache.
• Other dietary supplements— Numerous dietary supplements have been tried in Aspies. Those that may have some evidence to support their use include Vitamin B-6 and magnesium, Vitamin C, Carnosine, and Omega-3 fatty acids.
• Secretin— This gastrointestinal hormone has been tried as a potential treatment. Numerous studies have been conducted on secretin, and none found any evidence that it helps.

Other therapies that have been tried, but lack objective evidence to support their use include:

• antibiotics
• antifungal drugs
• chiropractic manipulations
• hyperbaric oxygen therapy
• immune therapies
• massage and craniosacral massage
• transcranial magnetic stimulation

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow this is a great resource.. I’m enjoying it.. good article

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