Source: Interactive Autism Network
Written By: Marina Sarris
Children and adults with autism are sometimes prescribed an array of psychiatric drugs for hyperactivity, poor attention, or challenging behaviors. One type of medication, called antipsychotics, has become something of a “go-to” treatment for the most severe behaviors. According to the latest studies, one in five or six youth with autism has taken them,1,2 along with 43 percent of adults with autism, on average.3 Antipsychotics are the most frequently used type of psychiatric drug in autism.3
That may be because two antipsychotics are the only drugs approved specifically for certain behaviors in children and teens with autism.1 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave its stamp of approval to aripiprazole (brand name Abilify) and risperidone (brand name Risperdal) for “irritability” in autism – namely self-injury and aggression – almost a decade ago. More recently, the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality weighed the scientific evidence on those medications. It found significant benefits and also “harms,” or bad side effects.5 The drugs reduce challenging and repetitive behaviors when compared to no treatment. They also are associated with significant weight gain, sedation, tremors and movement disorders, it noted. Click here to read the rest of the story
It should have been a perfect day. Lauren Primmer was hosting an annual party at her home in New Hampshire for families that, like hers, have adopted children from Ethiopia. On the warm, sunny July afternoon, about 40 people gathered for a feast of hot dogs, hamburgers and homemade Ethiopian dishes. The adults sipped drinks and caught up while the children swam in the pool and played basketball. It was entirely pleasant — at least, until the cake was served. When Primmer told her 11-year-old son Asaminew that he couldn’t have a second piece, he threw a tantrum so violent it took three adults to hold him down on the grass.
The Primmers adopted Asaminew from an orphanage in Ethiopia in 2008, when he was 26 months old. They had already adopted another child from the same orphanage in Ethiopia, and they have four older biological children. From the beginning, Primmer says, “He would only go to me, not anyone else.” That tendency, she later learned, may have been a symptom of reactive detachment disorder, a condition seen in some children who didn’t establish healthy emotional attachments with their caregivers as infants.
About a year and a half later, the family adopted three more Ethiopian children — siblings about Asaminew’s age — and he became aggressive. “When they first came, Asaminew was very abusive,” Primmer recalls. “He’d bite and scratch them.” The Primmers had to install gates on all of the children’s bedroom doors for their safety. Soon after he entered preschool, Asaminew began lashing out at his classmates, too. His teachers suggested that he be evaluated for autism. Doctors at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Clinic in Manchester, New Hampshire, diagnosed him with the condition. In addition to his violent episodes, they took note of his obsession with lining up toy cars and flushing toilets, his habit of taking his clothes off in public and his tendency to not follow rules at home or school. Asaminew is intellectually disabled and speaks in short, simple sentences. Click here to read the rest of the story
When dealing with a child on spectrum, the presence of sudden or chronic behaviours that are aggressive, odd, or socially inappropriate can present challenges one may feel ill-equipped to understand and deal with. Being prepared ahead of time can help a great deal in managing these issues in the calm, logical way. The following questions and answers cover some of the most common problems that arise with the behaviour of children (and some adults) who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Click here for the rest of the story.