Pharmacotherapy of emotional and behavioral symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorder in children and adolescents

Ekaterina Stepanova, Susannah Dowling, Molly Phelps, Robert L. Findling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by impairment in social communication and restricted patterns of behavior. Although there is no pharmacological treatment approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the core symptoms of ASD, there is mounting support in the literature for the management of behavioral symptoms associated with this developmental disorder, in particular, irritability and hyperactivity. Aripiprazole and risperidone are currently approved by the FDA for the treatment of irritability in youth with ASD. Though not FDA-approved, methylphenidate and guanfacine are effective for the management of hyperactivity in children with ASD. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are often used in clinical practice to target anxiety and compulsions; however, there is little evidence to support its use in this population. There is a great need for further research on the safety and efficacy of existing psychotropic medications in youth with ASD, as well as the development of new treatment modalities for the core and associated behavioral symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-402
Number of pages8
JournalDialogues in Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Adolescent
  • Antidepressant
  • Atypical antipsychotic
  • Autism
  • Children
  • Irritability
  • Mood stabilizer
  • Pediatric
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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