Stimulant medication treatment of target behaviors in children with autism: A population-based study

Katherine C. Nickels, Slavica K. Katusic, Robert C. Colligan, Amy L. Weaver, Robert G. Voigt, William J. Barbaresi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: This study provides detailed information about stimulant medication treatment for the target symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity, disinhibition, and inattention in children with autism. METHODS: In a previous study, 124 subjects fulfilling DSM-IV-based research criteria for autistic disorder were identified among all 0-21 year old residents of Olmsted County, MN from 1976-1997. For each of these 124 children with research-identified autism, information was abstracted on all prescribed psychopharmacological medications. RESULTS: Psychostimulants were used to treat 52.4% (N = 65) of the 124 subjects. The median total duration of psychostimulant treatment was 4.0 years. There were 398 episodes of psychostimulant treatment. Favorable responses were associated with 69.4% of treatment episodes. Of the 398 episodes of stimulant treatment, 16.8% were associated with a documented side effect. At least one side effect was experienced by 66% of the children. CONCLUSION: These results indicate that psychostimulants are commonly prescribed for children with autism, and suggest that these medications may improve the target symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity, disinhibition and inattention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-81
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Volume29
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2008

Keywords

  • Autism
  • Autistic disorder
  • Stimulant medications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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