Significant progress has been made in the development of medications for treating many of the behavioral target symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Double-blind, placebo-controlled trials have been published demonstrating the effectiveness of medications for motor hyperactivity and inattention; irritability (aggression, self-injury, severe tantrums); and to a limited extent for interfering repetitive, ritualistic behavior. Essentially no systematic research studies have been conducted for sleep disturbance (other than melatonin), depression/bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders, despite the fact that these conditions commonly co-occur in individuals with ASD. To date, no medications have been found to consistently improve the core social impairment, communication impairment and repetitive, ritualistic behavior characteristic of ASD. Information from the published literature will be reviewed, ideas for future directions will be presented, and questions from attendees will be entertained.
Review Christopher J. McDougle’s biographical statement.
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