SSRI's To Treat High-Functioning Autism?

“Our doctor wants to start my son who has high functioning autism on an SSRI. I have told the doc that I need to discuss this with my husband first. At this point, I am not feeling comfortable with my son being on drugs, but will be open to the idea if the advantages appear to outweigh the disadvantages. Not sure about the disadvantages though. Any insight will be wonderful. Thanks in advance.”

Medication can be an important part of treatment for some kids and teens on the autism spectrum.  However, medication should only be used as one part of a total treatment plan.  

Ongoing evaluation and monitoring by your doctor is crucial.  Moms and dads should be provided with complete information when medication is recommended, and the child should be included in the discussion about medications, using words he understands. 

By getting answers to the following questions, you should be able to make an informed decision about whether or not to start your son on an SSRI:
  1. Are there any activities that my son should avoid while taking the medication? Are any precautions recommended for other activities?
  2. Are there any laboratory tests (e.g. heart tests, blood test, etc.) that will need to be done before my son begins taking the medication?  Will any tests need to be done while he is taking the medication?
  3. Are there any other medications or foods, which my son should avoid while taking the medication?
  4. Are there interactions between this medication and other medications (prescription and/or over-the-counter) my son is taking?
  5. Does my son's school nurse need to be informed about this medication?
  6. How long will my son need to take this medication?  How will the decision be made to stop this medication?
  7. How will the medication help my son?  How long before I see improvement? When will it work?
  8. Is this medication addictive?  Can it be abused?
  9. What are the side effects which commonly occur with this medication?
  10. What do I do if a problem develops (e.g., my son becomes ill, doses are missed, or side effects develop)?
  11. What is known about its helpfulness with other kids who have a similar disorder to my son?
  12. What is the cost of the medication (generic vs. brand name)?
  13. What is the name of the medication?  Is it known by other names?
  14. What is the recommended dosage?  How often will the medication be taken?
  15. Will you (the doctor) be monitoring my son's response to this medication and make dosage changes if necessary?  How often will progress be checked?

FYI: Research has shown that SSRI medications can treat certain symptoms of ASD. The notion is that an imbalance of neurotransmitters may lead to problems with mood and behavior in some children on the spectrum. However, the FDA reported that an extensive analysis of clinical trials showed that antidepressants may cause or worsen suicidal thinking or behavior in a small number of kids and teens.

The analysis showed that 4 percent of those taking antidepressants had an increase in suicidal thoughts, compared with 2 percent of those taking a sugar pill (placebo). None of the young people in any of the studies actually followed through with suicide. 

Nonetheless, the FDA considered the findings of enough concern that it issued a public health advisory and began requiring manufacturers to label antidepressants with strong warnings about the link to suicidal thinking and behavior in kids and teens.

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

==> Parenting System that Reduces Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism


D Marcotte said...
I would use caution when using drugs for any child and particularly for one on the spectrum. We tried stimulus drugs to treat our daughters ADHD and the results were disastrous - however we know children that benefited tremendously. I guess I am saying don't be afraid to say no and if you do try it pay attention to side effects and stop if you see something you don't like.
Unknown said...
I just want to say that I was very resistant to giving my daughter anti depressants, at the at of 16. It has changed her world, all for the better, and I could not be more grateful. She has improved by leaps and bounds, and it has enabled her to get the most from her counseling, and learn to embrace her Asperger's and fulfill her potential. I would certainly keep a close eye, but if the child needs help, try everything.

Aspie Mom said...
We were offered drugs also, but were in the middle of going Naturopathic. Did you know they still don't know how it SSRI effect the growing brain of a child. Naturopathic say's if you are nutrient deprived (like in Low Folate)the side effects of SSRI are more common to occur, especially suicide. Come to find out the O.A.T - Organic Acid test showed 2 bad bacteria's in his gut, low in Serration & dopamine the sleep and feel good chemicals(depression). And many other nutrients that needed to be balanced so that his body and him could start feeling better. It took 10 weeks before we, family, teachers noticed he was better. It has been two months after the 10 weeks, we have seen no depression, anxiety, anger issues. We invested $1400.00 it was worth every penny. We have been cleared by his physiologist as a when needed patient.

Unknown said...
I am in the 4%. I was on SSRIs for many years, and recently stopped taking them. Since I discontinued the meds, about 2 weeks ago, my depression and anxiety have vanished, I have lost about 30 pounds, my hair has stopped falling out, my mental fog is gone, my vision has improved, and my memory is now not only functioning properly, it is perfect. I was on various SSRIs over the past 15 years (since I was 10), and never felt that they helped me in the slightest. I never thought to question their effect on me until very recently. However, I am not only a person with asperger syndrome, I am also a savant (which I discovered only after discontinuing the medications), which could reasonably explain why I had such adverse reactions.

LRose said...
What did you do to address the gut issues??

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