Medicine with Best Results for Autism

Expert Fact Checked

People looking for medicine with best results for autism should keep in mind that the drugs do not treat autism, but comorbid conditions that may be present.

Medical Treatments for Autistic Disorders

Pervasive developmental disorders have no known cure, and treatment is typically behavioral in nature. Some families adopt lifestyle changes, and the casein-gluten free diet is among the most popular. Alternative treatments for autistic disorders exist, but none are cures.

Some assert that autism should be treated as a biomedical disorder, which changes the focus from overt behaviors to internal biological factors that lead to the symptoms of autism. The challenge is determining the source of the problem. As for now, conditions on the spectrum are classified mental disorders, and not necessarily medical disorders.

Those affected by autism have symptoms that affect all areas of the person's development, hence the term "pervasive developmental disorder." No pill offers a solution to the symptoms of autistic disorders, but some families may want to consider medicine with best results for autism as a complement to treatment.

Medicine with Best Results for Autism

The best medications for autistic disorders are likely to be ones that address emotional problems or behavioral issues. Autism is a neurological condition that affects brain function and information processing. Drugs that affect brain functioning may benefit some people on the spectrum.

That National Institutes of Health lists problems that medication for autism can address, including:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Hyperactivity and impulsiveness
  • Sleep problems
  • Tantrums and aggression
  • Extreme compulsions or excessive repetitive movements


Antipsychotic medications may not have the best results for people with autism because they can have severe side effects. Haloperidol was found to be promising in reducing aggressive behaviors, but it can cause abnormal movements, muscles stiffness, and somnolence.

Risperidone (Risperdal) is the only medication approved to treat aggression and irritability problems in children with autism ages 5 to 16 years. Other antipsychotics are being researched.


Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a stimulant that is commonly prescribed to children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The drugs can be helpful in reducing impulsiveness and hyperactive behaviors in children with autism. The stimulants are not appropriate for adults on the spectrum.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors

The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are typically prescribed to people suffering from depression and anxiety. The drugs can be effective in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as well. Individuals on the autism spectrum who exhibit a large number of repetitive movements, such as hand flapping, may benefit from taking an SSRI.

Prozac (fluoxetine) has been approved to treat both OCD and depression. The following treat OCD:

  • Anafranil (clomipramine)
  • Zoloft (sertraline)
  • Luvox (fluvoxamine)

Seizure Medication

Some people on the autism spectrum experience seizures, and seizure medications like Divalproex may be prescribed. Anticonvulsants that can be effective include:

  • Tegretol (carbamazepine)
  • Topamax (topiramate)
  • Lamictal (lamotrigine)
  • Depakote (valproic acid)

Medicine for Thought

Keep in mind that no medication has been developed specifically for treating autism or related pervasive developmental disorders. When a doctor prescribes medicine, he or she is using drugs that are designed to treat other conditions. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the medication for treating symptoms of autism, which means that the medication is prescribed "off label."

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Medicine with Best Results for Autism