Search This Site


Aspergers Children: Medication & Side Effects

Kids who have Aspergers (high functioning autism) think and function very differently than other kids. In most cases, they need special help and coaching to function more successfully in their school and home environments. Treatments for Aspergers focus on helping kids manage in these settings.

Special education services, behavior therapy, speech therapy, and physical or occupational therapy may help the youngster learn to function more effectively and harmoniously with others. Training and counseling for parents and other family members also may be helpful.

There are no specific medications used to treat Aspergers. However, kids who suffer from anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, or obsessive-compulsive disorder as a result of Aspergers may benefit from medication to help with these symptoms. When these medications are prescribed, the youngster will be monitored by his or her health care provider at regular intervals throughout treatment.

To treat depression, drugs such as fluoxetine (Prozac®, Sarafem®) may be prescribed. It is important for parents to work closely with the youngster's health care provider and to fully understand how to monitor the youngster for side effects of antidepressant medication. In some kids and teenagers, these medications may increase suicidal thoughts and actions.

Other side effects that should be reported to the youngster's health care provider immediately include the following:

• Aggressive or impulsive behavior
• Agitation or restlessness
• Increased activity level
• Increased chattiness
• Increased depression or anxiety
• Increased irritability
• Panic attacks
• Sleep difficulties
• Strange moods or behavior changes

Kids should be monitored especially closely when they first begin taking antidepressant medication or if the dosage of the medication is changed. These medications should not be discontinued or the dosage changed without consulting a qualified health care provider.

To treat obsessive-compulsive behavior (OCD), clomipramine (Anafranil®) may be prescribed. Clomipramine is also an antidepressant and increases the risk for suicidal thoughts and actions in kids and teens. Patients should be monitored closely while taking this medication. Side effects that should be reported immediately to the youngster's health care provider include the following:

• Weakness
• Tremors
• Tiredness
• Seizures
• Muscle stiffness
• Loss of bladder control or difficulty with urination
• Increased heart rate
• Hallucinations
• Eye pain
• Depression
• Breathing difficulties

The following side effects, which generally are less serious, should be reported to the youngster's health care provider if they persist or cause particular discomfort:

• Sinus congestion
• Nervousness
• Loss of memory or difficulty concentrating
• Intestinal symptoms
• Headache
• Drowsiness
• Changes in appetite

These medications should not be discontinued or the dosage changed without consulting a qualified health care provider.

To treat inattentiveness or hyperactivity, stimulants such as methylphenidate (Concerta®, Ritalin®) or dextroamphetamine (Dexadrine®) may be prescribed. These medications can be habit forming and should be used with caution in patients who have heart problems or psychiatric conditions. The youngster's health care provider will take a careful health history and perform a medical evaluation before prescribing this medication.

Methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine can interfere with the youngster's growth and weight gain. If this occurs, the youngster's health care provider should be contacted right away. The following serious side effects also should be reported immediately:

• Vision problems
• Speech difficulties
• Shortness of breath
• Seizures
• Pounding heartbeat
• Numbness in arms or legs
• Muscle weakness
• Mood changes
• Hives
• Hallucinations
• Extreme tiredness
• Dizziness
• Distorted perceptions of reality
• Chest pain

The following side effects generally are less serious and should be reported to the youngster's health care provider if they persist or cause particular discomfort:

• Sleep problems
• Shakiness, nervousness, or restlessness
• Nausea or vomiting
• Loss of appetite
• Headache
• Gastrointestinal distress
• Dry mouth

These medications should not be discontinued or the dosage changed without consulting a qualified health care provider.

==> VIDEOS: Understanding Your Partner or Spouse on the Autism Spectrum


Kiwimama said...

What is the long term effect of taking medication like this from a young age? Is there an element of physical dependency? Will the young child become addicted to this medication & require it for the rest of their life to enable them to fit in & cope socially?

JulieMartin said...

This is also my concern

Unknown said...

Don't give them meds at all. they will destroy them phisicaly mentally and make their life even harder. I am an adult with a late diagnosis of asperger's syndrome. health, nutrition, fitness and natural remedies are the way forward.

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

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD 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 Children on the Spectrum

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 or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your 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 Teens on the Spectrum

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

Click here to read the full article…

Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD 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 ASD 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."

Click here to read the full article…

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.

Click here
to read the full article...

Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

Click here for the full article...