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What medications can treat developmental problems in children with autism?

Many children with autism face other developmental problems. The most common are attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, learning disabilities, depression, and bipolar disorder. These can lead to symptoms that are often treated with medication:
  • Medication to reduce tantrums, self-injury, or aggression. Your doctor may prescribe risperidone (Risperdal) or a similar medication if your child has trouble with severe tantrums or aggression.
  • Medication to reduce hyperactivity or lack of attention. Children with autism sometimes have problems focusing on tasks and feel a need to be moving all the time. Your doctor may prescribe medication to help your child focus.
  • Medication to reduce anxiety, repetitive behaviors, or routines. To address these symptoms, your doctor may prescribe an appropriate medication. There are several alternatives, so if the first medication prescribed doesn't help, your doctor can prescribe a different one.
People with autism often face other specific medical problems as well, and treating them can reduce autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) symptoms. Talk to your care team if you notice any of these:
  • Difficulties with eating. Children with ASDs can take "picky eating" to the extreme -- refusing foods based on texture or type or eating only specific foods.
  • Gastrointestinal problems. People with ASDs can have cramps, diarrhea, and bloating.
  • Sleep disturbances. People with ASDs often have trouble falling asleep or wake early in the morning.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.