There is no medication that can treat or cure autism, but some medications can be used to successfully treat the associated conditions that are often part of autism such as anxiety, obsessive or aggressive behaviour, sleeping problems, ticks or epilepsy.
Medication should not be the first line of treatment for all conditions associated with autism, but used in conjunction with positive behaviour supports, changes to the environment, training and support for families, teachers and professionals supporting the person with ASD
All medications have side effects, and some are short term and easily dealt with, some are long term and can be serious.
Side effects from medications can include weight gain, nausea, sleepiness, increased aggression, headaches and long term liver or kidney problems. Side effects will vary depending on the type and dosage of the medication, the person’s physical make up and the condition being treated.
The side effects of the medication need to be weighed up against any benefit gained from the medication.
When taking medication it is important that the person is closely monitored by their GP or paediatrician and that they have regular medication reviews to ensure they are taking the right type of medication and the right dosage.
As children grow and change in size or their bodies become tolerant of medication dosages may need to increase. In some types of epilepsy drugs resistance can develop and the person may need to change the type of medication they are taking.
Families of people with ASD or individuals with ASD should always do some research into the benefits and side effects of medications prescribed for conditions associated with autism prior to commencing treatment and should seek a second opinion if in doubt to the effectiveness of the medication.
Medication has a place in treating some conditions associated with autism, and it can be very effective in helping people with ASD cope and function, each family and individual should seek to make an informed choice about its use and place as part of their treatment regime.