Johanna K. Lake
Study Aims and Objectives
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are often prescribed medication for mental health or behavior problems. This study aimed to describe how often children with ASD are prescribed these medications and some of their side effects.
Methods - Sample, Procedure, Study Measures, Analysis
The study looked at demographic (age, gender, race), clinical (behavior, mental health problems) and medication information on 4749 children with ASD aged 2 to 11. The study also looked at what services families were accessing (behavior therapy, family therapy) and possible medication side effects.
Results – Main Finding(s)
5.4% of children ages 2-11 and 17.7% of children ages 12-17 years were taking medication for mental health or behavioral problems. Medication use was related to taking multiple medications, behavior problems, older age, public insurance, non-white ethnicity, and using some services (behavior, family and occupational therapy). The researchers found no difference in medication use between boys and girls. Some children taking medication were more likely to be overweight and to have sleep and stomach problems.
Conclusion – Summary Statement
It is important to understand why children with ASD are taking medications for mental health and behavioral problems. This is especially true when children are taking these medications and not using behavior therapy or when they are taking multiple medications.