Medication use in children with
high-functioning Pervasive Developmental
Disorder and Asperger Syndrome
There is no specific pharmacological treatment for the Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDDs). However, psychosocial treatments and appropriate medication can reduce many common maladaptive behaviours. We do not treat PDDs, but rather target symptoms. Medication does not ameliorate the basic deficits in social interaction and communication seen in the children with PDDs. However, it can be considered for use with other measures, when the child seems anxious or depressed, has stereotypies, or is inattentive, hyperactive, and aggressive to self or others.
In this chapter, I will describe medications most commonly used in populations with PDDs and principles that govern their use. Although efforts have been made to distinguish Asperger Syndrome (AS) from high-functioning autism (HFA), it is premature to be certain about this differentiation (Mayes, Calhoun, and Crites 2001). There is also no evidence of any difference in medication response in those with HFA compared with those with AS. As there are no indications that children with AS respond differently to medication from children with other forms of PDD, what will be discussed in this chapter relates to PDDs generally.
1 My appreciation goes to Ms Wende Wood, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health,
for her helpful suggestions.