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Lang Speech Hear Serv Sch. 2010 Jul;41(3):367-75. doi: 10.1044/0161-1461(2009/08-0106). Epub 2010 Jun 11.

Pharmacotherapy and children with autism spectrum disorder: a tutorial for speech-language pathologists.

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Wichita State University, 1845 Fairmount, Wichita, KS 67260-0075, USA.



The purpose of this tutorial is to provide speech-language pathologists (SLPs) with general information regarding the most commonly prescribed medications for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD; e.g., central nervous system stimulants, noradrenergic reuptake inhibitors, alpha-2 adrenergic agonists, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, benzodiazepines) in regard to their mechanism of action, behaviors treated, and potential side effects.


This clinical resource was compiled to support SLPs who need to understand the functions and effects of medications that have been prescribed to a child with ASD to whom they have or will be providing assessment and intervention services.


SLPs play an important role in the education, assessment, and treatment of children with ASD. Although there is no definitive cure for ASD, up to 70% of children with ASD are prescribed psychoactive medications to ameliorate disruptive behaviors associated with ASD such as hyperactivity, inattention, impulsivity, aggression, irritability, self-injury, obsessive compulsiveness, anxiety, and mood disorders. The entire health care team, including SLPs, should be involved in monitoring children with ASD for efficacy, tolerability, and potential side effects when medications are prescribed.

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