Many children with autism are prescribed daily medication to [ideally] alleviate some of his or her symptoms, usually for a co-existing disorder. A recent study found that of the observed 34,000 children, nearly two-thirds were taking at least one medication. Furthermore, of that group, more than one-third were taking two medications, and even one in seven children were taking three. But what exactly are these medications doing? Are they even helping? There is actually very little evidence on the medicine’s safety and effects…frightening.
The study’s researchers suggest that all parents try to do some research on the medicines side effects and benefits before allowing their child to begin. Turns out only a few medicines are actually approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The rest, are known as “off-label” use. Proceed with caution.
Every child is different. Every autistic child is different. Just because one medicine is helping a child with certain behaviors, doesn’t mean it will help the next. Dr. Anjali Jain, senior author of the study explains, “It’s hard to come with a treatment that covers every child.”[i]
The study found that older kids were more likely to be prescribed psychotropic medication for conditions such as depression or seizure, perhaps because doctors may feel more comfortable in prescribing such medicines for older kids rather than the young ones. Further research needs to be done to find out just how effective these medicines are, and if there are any risk factors parents are unaware of.
[i] “US News” Many kids with autism on multiple medication, study finds. 22 Oct 2013. Web. < http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2013/10/22/many-kids-with-autism-on-multiple-medications-study-finds>