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    Alternative Treatments for Autism

    Michelle Galen, MD Family Medicine, Deaconess Clinic 07/14/2016
    Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder that affects the brain. It can be characterized by social interaction difficulty, behavioral differences and communication challenges. Researchers are working on discovering possible causes for autism. As a result, medical science has yet to be successful in the treatment and or prevention of autism.

    Each individual with autism is unique- varying in range and intensity of their symptoms. Therefore, finding a tailored treatment can be difficult. Traditional treatments have centered on behavioral therapy, educational interventions, speech therapy, and medications for symptoms like hyperactivity and attention. Current research has shifted focus to biological factors as researchers are uncovering evidence that behavioral symptoms can be caused or triggered by an imbalance in the child’s gastro-intestinal system.

    Current treatment options include the following medications:
    • Off Label Prescriptions – Since much about autism is still unknown, it’s not uncommon for physicians to prescribe drugs as “off label.”  Off-label means the drug is not FDA approved for the specific condition your physician is intended to treat.  While off-label prescriptions open up the possibilities for treatment and behavior modification, there is inherent risk in the unknown.
    • Antipsychotics Risperidone and Aripiprazole are antipsychotic medications with some demonstrated success in reducing irritability and promoting positive social skills.  However, risperidone can result in stunted bone growth and breast swelling due to its interference with the production of prolactin.  Finding the right dosage of aripiprazole is often a time consuming process and doses that are too high can cause akathisia (severe restlessness).
    • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) – SSRIs, a type of antidepressant, have proven to dampen irritability, obsessive compulsive behaviors, aggressiveness and anxiety.  But, SSRIs can lead to a cluster of symptoms referred to as “activation syndrome”. These symptoms can include restlessness, high levels of anxiety and disinhibition. 
    • CM-AT – Currently in clinical trials, CM-AT focuses on improving symptoms of Autism by enhancing their impaired ability to digest protein. By boosting this process, their body’s amount of essential amino acids may be replenished. This would improve the expression of genes that are important to brain function and motor skills, and encourage formation of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine which contribute to feelings of well-being and happiness. CM-AT is given in powder form; making ingestion and compliance easy. 
    If you feel your child might be a candidate for participating in ongoing clinical trials for autism, contact your pediatrician or family doctor. 

    To learn about participating in clinical trials for Autism visit our Clinical Research department or call 877-654-0311
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