Management of Symptoms in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Comprehensive Review of Pharmacologic and Complementary-Alternative Medicine Treatments

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2011 Jan;32(1):56-68. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e3182040acf.

Abstract

In the care of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), medical treatment is typically considered an adjunct to educational and behavioral interventions. Nonetheless, large proportions of children with ASD are managed medically and receive both pharmacologic and complementary-alternative medicine (CAM) treatments. Although many medical treatments have been studied in children with ASD, studies vary widely in terms of the sample, sample size, research design, purposes of treatment, and measurements of change. Surprisingly, comprehensive reviews of the options for medical management in ASD are lacking, particularly reviews that address both pharmacologic and CAM treatments. Furthermore, reviews to date tend to emphasize general effects of medication; this perspective contradicts medical practice, which targets particular symptoms during treatment selection and monitoring. This review of 115 studies adds to the ASD treatment literature by (1) including studies of individuals 0 to 22 years of age; (2) aggregating studies of pharmacologic treatments and CAM treatments; and importantly, (3) organizing treatment response by ASD symptoms, differentiating core and associated symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / drug therapy
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / therapy*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Complementary Therapies / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult