Therapy and Psychotropic Medication Use in Young Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Learn how you can help with a new
Autism, ADHD, Anxiety & Depression study.

CAR stands united with the Black Lives Matter movement
against racism and social injustice.

TitleTherapy and Psychotropic Medication Use in Young Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsZiskind, D, Bennett, A, Jawad, A, Blum, N
IssueSuppl 1
Date Published2020 04
KeywordsAutism Spectrum Disorder, Behavior Therapy, Child, Child, Preschool, Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, Humans, Male, Psychotropic Drugs

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Guidelines suggest young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) receive intensive nonpharmacologic interventions. Additionally, associated symptoms may be treated with psychotropic medications. Actual intervention use by young children has not been well characterized. Our aim in this study was to describe interventions received by young children (3-6 years old) with ASD. The association with sociodemographic factors was also explored.

METHODS: Data were analyzed from the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network (AS-ATN), a research registry of children with ASD from 17 sites in the United States and Canada. AS-ATN participants receive a diagnostic evaluation and treatment recommendations. Parents report intervention use at follow-up visits. At follow-up, 805 participants had data available about therapies received, and 613 had data available about medications received.

RESULTS: The median total hours per week of therapy was 5.5 hours (interquartile range 2.0-15.0), and only 33.4% of participants were reported to be getting behaviorally based therapies. A univariate analysis and a multiple regression model predicting total therapy time showed that a diagnosis of ASD before enrollment in the AS-ATN was a significant predictor. Additionally, 16.3% of participants were on ≥1 psychotropic medication. A univariate analysis and a multiple logistic model predicting psychotropic medication use showed site region as a significant predictor.

CONCLUSIONS: Relatively few young children with ASD are receiving behavioral therapies or total therapy hours at the recommended intensity. There is regional variability in psychotropic medication use. Further research is needed to improve access to evidence-based treatments for young children with ASD.

Alternate JournalPediatrics
PubMed ID32238536