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Autism Res Treat. 2013;2013:384527. doi: 10.1155/2013/384527. Epub 2013 May 16.

Prevalence and Predictors of Psychotropic Use in Children with High-Functioning ASDs.

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Institute for Autism Research, Canisius College, 2001 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14208, USA.


This study examined (1) the prevalence of psychotropic medication use for a sample of children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (HFASDs), (2) the extent to which psychotropic agents were linked to targeted symptoms, and (3) predictors of psychotropic use. A total of 115 children, ages 6-13, with HFASDs who were enrolled in psychosocial treatment trials were included in this study. Parents completed extensive background and rating forms prior to treatment that included data on demographic characteristics, child health, child medication use, and child ASD-related symptoms. Results indicated that 33% (n = 38) of the sample was taking psychotropic medication with the most common being stimulants (25%; n = 29), antidepressants (10%; n = 12), and neuroleptics (6%; n = 7). All children taking stimulants had target symptoms that were appropriate for stimulant medication, whereas 57% of those taking neuroleptics and 42% of those taking antidepressants did not have targeted symptoms consistent with the medication. Logistic regression for the major psychotropic drug categories indicated that lower IQ was a significant predictor of increased antidepressant and neuroleptic use. A higher level of ASD-related symptoms was related to the likelihood of stimulant use.

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