New Report Looks at Therapies for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders

Some medical and behavioral treatments show promise for reducing certain behaviors in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), but more research is needed to assess the potential benefits and harms, according to a new AHRQ-funded report.  The research results were published online in the journal Pediatrics

The comparative effectiveness report found that two commonly used medications—risperidone and aripiprazole—show benefit in reducing some behaviors, including emotional distress, aggression, hyperactivity and self-injury. However, these medicines are associated with significant side effects, such as rapid weight gain and drowsiness. The review found that no medications used for ASDs improved social behaviors or communication skills. The report also found that several medications show promise and should be studied further, but that secretin, which has been studied extensively, has shown no effectiveness.