Medications for Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

“Are there any medications used to treat the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome or High Functioning Autism?”

No medications directly treat the core symptoms of Asperger’s or High Functioning Autism. Although research into the effectiveness of pharmaceutical intervention for Asperger’s is limited, it is essential to diagnose and treat “comorbid” (i.e., related) conditions.

Deficits in self-identifying emotions or in observing effects of one's behavior on others can make it difficult for kids with Asperger’s to see why medication may be appropriate. Medication can be effective in combination with behavioral interventions and environmental accommodations in treating comorbid symptoms (e.g., anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, inattention, aggression, etc.).

Risperidone and olanzapine have been shown to reduce the associated symptoms of Asperger’s. Risperidone can reduce repetitive and self-injurious behaviors, aggressive outbursts and impulsivity, and improve stereotypical patterns of behavior and social relatedness. The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) fluoxetine, fluvoxamine and sertraline have been effective in treating restricted and repetitive interests and behaviors.

Care must be taken with medications:
  • Weight gain and fatigue are commonly reported side effects of risperidone, which may also lead to increased risk for extrapyramidal symptoms (e.g., restlessness and dystonia) and increased serum prolactin levels.
  • SSRIs can lead to manifestations of behavioral activation (e.g., increased impulsivity, aggression and sleep disturbance).
  • Sedative side-effects in school-age kids have ramifications for classroom learning. 
  • Sedation and weight gain are more common with olanzapine, which has also been linked with diabetes.
  • Abnormalities in metabolism, cardiac conduction times, and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes have been raised as concerns with these medications, along with serious long-term neurological side effects.

Note: Kids with Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism may be unable to identify and communicate their internal moods and emotions or to tolerate side effects that, for most individuals, would not be a problem.

More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book


Anonymous said...We use efaflex on our son which is an omega 3,6 and 9 and contains evening primrose oil, it has curved his outbursts but we do notice during growth spurts that his moods go out the window and we tried omega without evening primrose in it and it wasn't as effective, so we believe that some of his behavior is brought on by hormones during growth, but peadritician doesn't believe so. The year that he was really bad he grew 13cm in height in that year.

Anonymous said...We have seen amazing changes in my 11 year old aspie will Abilifiy as well.

Anonymous said...Thank you for posting this. I was going to do a internet search to see if there were any meds that we could try for my son.

Anonymous said...My son is on intuniv. He can't have stimulants because of his facial tics and we have really been pleased with the results that intuniv have given him.

Anonymous said...My son is 14 and has Aspergers. We have yet to find a medication to curb his meltdowns!!

Anonymous 11 year old has been on meds for 3 years now and would not be able to function without them. Abilify and Concerta have been the most effective with a recent addition of Kapvay. Abilify has been consistently the most necessary to curb his anxiety. He also struggles with rigid thinking, impulse control and violent outbursts. Still, though, Asperger's is kicking MY ass today! It's definitely a marathon.

Anonymous said...I have a daughter entering her teen years and it has been HELL since school started this year. Doc prescribed risperdal. However, after reading some of the awful side effects, decided not to give it to her. Hormones definitely magnify the outbursts and I disagree with any Doc who says otherwise.

Anonymous said...Focalin XR can help treat the add part and overall helps with the Aspergers

Anonymous said...Abilify has really helped with my son.

Anonymous said... another drug in the same family as risperdol but another generation along and therefore supposedly w/ fewer side effects is Abilify. It hasn't ended my kid's impulsiveness but it's mitigated it and bolstered his mood, which sensory issues and struggles in schools were just hammering. The decision to medicate is a hard one; but I don't want my kid's brain to learn how to be depressed -- once that track is laid down, you zip along it way too easily throughout life.

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