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Parents of Autistic Children Turning to Alternative Treatments
Date:5/2/2010

ne that the more you don't know about how to treat something, the more treatments there are," Law said, noting that medications can treat some of the symptoms of autism, but no medication treats the autism itself.

Coury agreed. "For the majority of these treatments, there is no good research to support their effectiveness," he said.

Treatments that have been shown to work include behavioral interventions and medications that can help curb aggressive and other behavioral issues, Law said.

About 27 percent of children with an autism spectrum disorder are taking at least one medication to manage their behavior, according to a fourth study from the meeting. It found that the most common reasons for medication use were hyperactivity, repetitive behaviors, irritability and problems with attention.

Of the children taking medications, nearly half were taking two or more medications.

Medication use became more common as children got older, the study found. About 60 percent of children aged 11 and older took medication, compared with 44 percent of children aged 6 to 10, 11 percent of children aged 3 to 5 and 4 percent of kids younger than 3.

The most common medications were stimulants to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and risperidone (Risperdal), approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat irritability, aggression, temper tantrums and self-injurious behavior.

About one in 110 U.S. children has autism, which is characterized by difficulties with social, language and communications skills and restricted or repetitive behaviors or interests.

The Autism Treatment Network, run by Autism Speaks, a New York-based research and advocacy organization, includes 14 treatment and research centers in the United States and Canada for children with autism who are 2 to 18 years old.

More information

Autism Speaks has more on

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