The objective of medication management is to stabilize many of the challenging behaviors that coincide with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Decreasing behaviors such as hyperactivity, anxiety, compulsiveness, aggression, self-injury, and others can help the individual on the autism spectrum to reach his/her potential and participate as fully as possible in family, school, and community life. Although there are no presently-known medications that are capable of directly improving the core social and communicative impairments of autism, targeted psychopharmacological treatment can sometimes help in reducing frequently associated behavioral symptoms. Deciding whether or not to take such medications is a personal choice and should be discussed thoroughly with the prescriber.
Questions To Ask Your Provider:
- What is the name of the medication? Is it known by other names?
- How will the medication help my child/me? How long before I see improvement?
- What are possible side effects that can occur with this medication? How are different side effects handled?
- Is this medication addictive? Can it be abused?
- What is the recommended dosage?
- How often and what time of day does the medication need to be taken?
- Are there any laboratory tests (e.g. heart tests, blood tests, etc.) which need to be done before my child begins taking the medication?
- How will we monitor my child’s response to the medication and make changes if necessary? How often will progress be checked and by whom?
- How often should my child come in for a check-up?
- Are there any other medications or foods which my child should avoid while taking the medication?
- Are there any activities that my child/I should avoid while taking the medication? Are any precautions recommended for other activities?
- Are there interactions between this medication and other medications (prescription and/or over-the-counter)?
- How long will my child/I need to take this medication?
- What do I do if a problem develops (e.g. if my child becomes ill, doses are missed etc.)?
- What is the cost of this medication? Is there a generic brand? Are there any differences between the brand name and generic brand?
Things to Consider:
- Make sure that each pharmacy you use has a list of medications you or your child is taking.
- Let the school nurse know what prescription drugs your child is taking.
- Document the dosage and type of medication you or your child is taking. Make note of any questions or concerns (i.e. behavior changes, changes in sleep patterns, etc.) you may have so you can discuss them with your provider.