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Expert Rev Neurother. 2012 Apr;12(4):461-73. doi: 10.1586/ern.12.23.

Psychostimulants for ADHD-like symptoms in individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

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  • 1Institute for Pediatric Neuroscience, NYU Child Study Center, Langone Medical Center, 215 Lexington Avenue, NY 10016, USA.


We conducted a comprehensive review of studies assessing the efficacy and tolerability of psychostimulants for ADHD-like symptoms in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (encompassing autism disorder, Asperger's syndrome and pervasive developmental disorders not otherwise specified). PubMed, Ovid, EMBASE, Web of Science, ERIC and CINHAL were searched through 3 January 2012. From a pool of 348 potentially relevant references, 12 citations (11 studies) were retained as pertinent. Four of the included studies had a randomized controlled design. Most of the studies assessed methylphenidate immediate release. Despite inter-study heterogeneity, taken together, the results of the selected reports suggest that psychostimulants may be effective for ADHD-like symptoms in autism spectrum disorder individuals. The most common adverse events reported in the included trials were appetite reduction, sleep-onset difficulties, irritability and emotional outbursts. We discuss future directions in the field, including the need for trials assessing more ecological outcomes and combined treatment strategies tailored to the specific individual features.

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