Psychotherapy versus Pharmacotherapy in Treating Asperger's and HFA

“What are your thoughts on psychotherapy versus pharmacotherapy for children with Asperger syndrome?”

Focused and structured psychotherapy can be very helpful in treating children with Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism (HFA), particularly in the context of the following:
  • anxiety
  • family functioning
  • frustration in regard to education and vocational goals 
  • meltdowns
  • negativism
  • overwhelming experiences of sadness
  • social adjustment

Although little information about pharmacological interventions for children with Asperger’s and HFA is available, a conservative approach based on the evidence from autism should probably be adopted. In general, pharmacological interventions for kids on the spectrum are probably best avoided. Specific medication might be indicated if Asperger’s or HFA is accompanied by a thought disorder, severe obsessions and compulsions, or debilitating depressive symptoms.

It is important for moms and dads to know that medications are prescribed for the treatment of specific symptoms associated with Asperger’s and HFA, and not to treat the disorder in-and-of itself.


•    Anonymous said... "Specific medication might be indicated if Asperger’s or HFA is accompanied by a thought disorder, severe obsessions and compulsions, or debilitating depressive symptoms"  ...Depression and anxiety can be because of they way neuro typicals treat aspergers people.
•    Anonymous said... Finding s good therapist that really gets Asperger's is easier said than done. I often feel like I sm telling the therapists what to look for.
•    Anonymous said... I feel like that with every professional and support person we deal with.

Please post your comment below…


  1. We are the proud grandparents of an 11 year-old with Aspergers. She and her mother have lived with us for several years and we are all very close. Thank you for the information you provide,it is helpful. She was diagnosed when she was about three and since then we have been on a 'roller-coaster' emotionally as you can appreciate. I have many questions, but the first is why, after so many years dealing with Aspergers nationally and the increasing numbers of children diagnosed, is there no real definitive information about the effects of drugs? They have been diagnosing adult pharmaceuticals for her since her diagnosis. They have been guessing about the doses and types of products all of this time, only changing after adverse results. As you know these drugs have long-lasting effects (esp. excessive weight-gain.) Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. -F.Pryor, Denver

  2. I agree with several of the comments here. 1st that it is difficult to find qualified therapists that actually have experience with Aspergers or HFA. And now that Aspergers is no longer in the DSM V that may be more difficult since schools won't teach it. 2nd I agree that medications can only treat symptoms and not the condition. Because of that, my wife and I have always felt that therapy is a better option. We've only recently and reluctantly started using medications for some of the symptoms so that our child could have every chance to be successful in academic situations.