Question: How do I decide whether medication or another form of intervention is right in managing my child's autism?
Answer: The most important criterion when choosing an intervention is that the intervention is evidence-based. And this means that there are published research studies using control groups and placebos proving that the intervention is effective with children who have autism. Many interventions used today have no research support.
The two interventions with the best research support are medication and applied behavior analysis or behavior therapy. Published research studies demonstrate that medications can reduce symptoms associated with autism including mood and behavior problems, inattention and hyperactivity, obsessions and repetitive behavior, anxiety and sleep problems.
When considering medication, one needs to weigh the risks of using the medication with the risks of not using medication. If a child's symptoms interfere with functioning, cause the child or others emotional distress or pose a safety risk for the child or others, then medication may be a treatment option. And of course, medication should never be used alone. It should be combined with other interventions that have proven effectiveness with children who have autism such as applied behavior analysis.