Autism Websites: Therapies for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism Website Review:

Review Project Compiles and Reviews 10 Years of Research on Autism Treatment and Therapies
10 Years of Autism Treatment and Therapy Research Compiled and Reviewed in Book Titled Therapies for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

One of the greatest challenges that parents of a child with autism must face is determining which therapies and treatments are most appropriate for their child.  This task can be overwhelming.  Parents are often faced with seemingly unlimited choices.  Unfortunately, it is unknown how effective many of these autism treatments actually are.  A major effort by the Vanderbilt Evidence-based Practice Center attempted to locate and summarize the available research for the many treatments and therapies available for children with autism.  Their work was published in an ebook titled Therapies for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

This book is no easy read.  At 908 pages it might be considered overwhelming in and of itself.  However, it serves as an outstanding resource for individuals looking for a summary of pertinent research involving a specific treatment or therapy for autism.

The purpose of the project was to provide a review of autism treatments geared toward children between the ages of 2 and 12 with a diagnosis of autism.  Research is included that took place between January 2000 and May 2010.  Only medical studies including 30 or more participants were included in the review.  Behavioral, educational, and allied health research was only included if the studies utilized 10 or more participants.

The project narrowed the research down to 159 studies.  They rated 13 of these as good quality studies, 56 as having fair quality, and 90 as poor quality.  From these studies the following conclusions were determined:

  • Risperdal (risperidone) and Abilify (aripiprazole) improve aggression, emotional distress, hyperactivity, and self-injury but also result in many side effects
  • No medications help the social and communication issues associated with autism
  • Data suggests early behavioral and developmental interventions may help improve cognitive ability, adaptive behavior, and language
  • Parent training and cognitive behavioral therapy may help improve social communication, language use, and severity of symptoms
  • Limited evidence exists to support other treatments and therapies for autism spectrum disorders

The review also suggests a need for more and larger studies to be conducted, especially in regard to behavioral and educational therapies.  They also state the need for improved methods to be utilized in the studies being conducted to research autism treatments.

It should be noted that treatments not listed in this review may or may not be effective.  The review project simply compiled the pertinent research conducted over a 10 year period and summarized the findings of that research.  If little to no research had been conducted on a particular autism treatment or therapy, then the review project likely did not include that treatment in the review (i.e. it may not have been included in the 159 studies examined in the review project).

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Autism News: β2-Adrenergic Receptor Agonist Exposure During Pregnancy and Autism Risk

Autism News Update:

Study Examines Possible Correlation Between Increased Autism Risk and Use of Terbutaline During Pregnancy

There are several theories to explain the cause of autism.  One theory is that autism is caused by exposure to β2-adrenergic receptor agonists (i.e. albuterol, terbutaline) during pregnancy.  A recent study attempted to determine if a relationship between β2-adrenergic receptor agonist exposure during pregnancy and increased autism risk exists.  The findings were published in an article titled Prenatal Exposure to β2-Adrenergic Receptor Agonists and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders.

The study was a case-control study utilizing data from Kaiser Permanente Northern California hospitals between the years of 1995 and 1999.  The research included 575 individuals.  The case group was made up of 291 children with autism and the control group consisted of 284 children with no autism diagnosis.  The children in the control group were randomly chosen and were matched to children in the case group based upon sex, birth year, and birth hospital.

The researchers analyzed exposure to β2-adrenergic receptor agonists during pregnancy and 30 days prior to pregnancy.  The children in both the case group and the control group experienced similar exposure frequencies to β2-adrenergic receptor agonists.  Specifically, 18.9% of mothers of children in the case group took β2-adrenergic receptor agonists during pregnancy or 30 days prior to pregnancy while 14.8% of mothers of children in the control group took β2-adrenergic receptor agonists during the same time period.

Terbutaline and Autism Risk:

The study found that exposure to β2-adrenergic receptor agonists other than terbutaline during pregnancy or 30 days prior to pregnancy did not increase the likelihood of the child developing an autism spectrum disorder.

However, the researchers did find that exposure to terbutaline for any medical purpose for more than 2 days during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy resulted in an increased risk for developing autism.   The risk was 4 times greater than children not exposed to terbutaline for more than 2 days during the 3rd trimester.  The researchers are quick to point out that the sample size in the study was not large enough to provide a significant estimate for this finding.

The authors state that the results of their research suggest there is no link between increased autism risk and exposure to β2-adrenergic receptor agonists during pregnancy.  However, they also state that the findings do suggest a possible link between increased autism risk with exposure to terbutaline for more than 2 days during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy.  They state that this possibility needs to be confirmed by studies with larger sample sizes.

The article was epublished in the Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders on August 27, 2011.

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Autism Research: Use of Risperidone (Risperdal) for Behavioral Disorders in Children with Autism

Autism Research:

Safety and Efficacy of Risperdal (Risperidone) Researched for Use in Autistic Children

Behavioral disorders often accompany an autism diagnosis.  There are several treatment options available for such behavioral disorders, one of which is Risperdal (risperidone).  Researchers looked at the efficacy and safety of risperidone for the treatment of behavioral disorders in autistic children.  The findings were published in an article titled Treatment of Behavioral Disorders by Risperidone in Children with Autism.

The study included 40 children with autism that also experienced behavioral disorders.  The children were between the ages of 5 and 12 years old.  They were treated with risperidone for 8 weeks, during which time behaviors and adverse events were observed.  Clinical Global Impression (CGI) and the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC) were performed before and after the 8 week treatment with risperidone to monitor changes in behavioral symptoms.

Risperdal (Risperidone) Benefits:

The research found that both the severity of illness and the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist scores were reduced significantly following 8 weeks of treatment with risperidone.  More specifically, the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC) showed improvements in verbal communication, behavioral symptoms, and apperception.

Risperdal (Risperidone) Side Effects:

There were no serious side effects from risperidone reported during the 8 week study.

The researchers state the findings of the study suggest that risperidone is a well-tolerated treatment option to significantly improve behavior issues in children with autism spectrum disorders.

The article was epublished in the Chinese Journal of Contemporary Pediatrics in March 2011.

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