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Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2016;17(7):937-52. doi: 10.1517/14656566.2016.1154536. Epub 2016 Mar 7.

Psychopharmacological interventions in autism spectrum disorder.

Author information

1
a Massachusetts General Hospital & McLean Hospital, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Service , Yawkey Outpatient Care Center , Boston , MA , USA.
2
b Payne-Whitney Clinic , New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill-Cornell Medical Center , New York , NY , USA.
3
c Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities , University of North Carolina School of Medicine , Carrboro , NC , USA.
4
d Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Service , Yawkey Outpatient Care Center , Boston , MA , USA.
5
e Lurie Center for Autism, Massachusetts General Hospital , Harvard Medical School , Lexington , MA , USA.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) commonly present for treatment of emotional and behavioral disturbances associated with ASD's "core" symptoms. Psychotropic medications are widely utilized in alleviating associated emotional and behavioral symptoms.

AREAS COVERED:

Emotional and behavioral disturbances associated with ASD include irritability/severely disruptive behavior, which comprises the heaviest symptom burden; hyperactivity and other Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity-Disorder (ADHD)-type symptoms; repetitive/stereotyped behaviors; and social withdrawal. Existing evidence for medications for each of these symptom clusters will be examined in this review.

EXPERT OPINION:

Psychopharmacological treatment of core and associated symptoms in ASD is challenging, in large part because of the heterogeneity in the presentation of ASD. Furthermore, children and adolescents with ASD are more vulnerable to the side effects of psychopharmacological intervention than their age-matched, typically developing counterparts. Currently, risperidone and aripiprazole are the only medications that have been (relatively) reliably shown to help treat certain symptom clusters associated with ASD, namely severely disruptive behavior and hyperactivity. Recent studies have begun to look at medications with mechanisms that are novel in the treatment of ASD and that may address underlying pathophysiology and/or core symptoms such as glutamate-modulating agents. Overall, randomized, placebo-controlled studies of medications for the treatment of ASD are scarce.

KEYWORDS:

Antidepressants; atypical antipsychotics; autism; autism spectrum disorder; mood stabilizers; oxytocin; pervasive developmental disorders; psychopharmacology; stimulants

PMID:
26891879
DOI:
10.1517/14656566.2016.1154536
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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