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Are Autistic Children on Too Much Medication?


Posted on Oct 23, 2013

Autistic children are often prescribed multiple medications. But are all of these medications necessary? Are the side effects of the medications worth the supposed benefits? Or are doctors throwing too much medicine at children without truly considering the effects and the problem?

Reuters reports on the growing concerns surrounding over-medicating Autistic children. “So-called psychotropic drugs include antipsychotics like Haldol and Thorazine as well as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and stimulants like Adderall. Those drugs alter people's mood or behavior. Many have not been proven effective for treating autism,” according to Reuters. Thus parents and researchers are questioning whether children should even be taking these drugs.

A new study delves into the drawbacks of these drugs. The doctor who authored the study told Reuters, “I was surprised at how extensively psychotropic medications are used in children, even very young children, and how often children are receiving more than one at a time without research showing effectiveness or safety of (that practice). The drugs are often prescribed for kids feeling anxious, throwing tantrums or being irritable or aggressive. Any use by kids with autism could be too much since no one is positive the medicines are working.”

There are many side effects to these medications such as sleeping/appetite problems, headaches, and a movement disorder that is similar to Parkinson’s disease. Another interesting phenomenon is the fact that these medications sometimes cause the same symptoms that it is supposed to combat.

The study’s author said, “Some of these medications can themselves cause symptoms like anxiety and agitation that mimic a psychiatric disorder potentially leading to even more medication use. Since many children with autism are particularly sensitive to sounds and textures, they could be sensitive to powerful medications as well. Plus, children with autism are likely less able to tell adults how drugs make them feel physically and emotionally.”

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Gerry Oginski
NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer