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Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2012 Sep;14(3):263-79.

Pharmacologic treatments for the behavioral symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorders across the lifespan.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Lurie Center for Autism, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.

Abstract

This review outlines pharmacologic treatments for the behavioral symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in children, adolescents, and adults. Symptom domains include repetitive and stereotyped behaviors, irritability and aggression, hyperactivity and inattention, and social impairment. Medications covered include serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs), mirtazapine, antipsychotics, psychostimulants, atomoxetine, α-2 agonists, D-cycloserine, and memantine. Overall, SRIs are less efficacious and more poorly tolerated in children with ASDs than in adults. Antipsychotics are the most efficacious drugs for the treatment of irritability in ASDs, and may be useful in the treatment of other symptoms. Psychostimulants demonstrate some benefit for the treatment of hyperactivity and inattention in individuals with ASDs, but are less efficacious and associated with more adverse effects compared with individuals with ADHD. D-cycloserine and memantine appear helpful in the treatment of social impairment, although further research is needed.

KEYWORDS:

autism; autism spectrum disorder; autistic disorder; pervasive developmental disorder; treatment

PMID:
23226952
PMCID:
PMC3513681
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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