Study Compares Parental Training with Medication in Autism Treatment

Researchers at Ohio State University are conducting an ongoing study to see whether a new class of medications, behavior-focused parental training, or a combination of the two is most helpful for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

The medication is a non-stimulant drug known as atomoxetine.  It is an alternative to a class of drugs known as psycho-stimulants, which are often prescribed for behavioral issues but can carry alarming and ultimately counterproductive side effects.  Atomoxetine works on a different neuro-chemical in children’s brains, and researchers are hopeful it may show results when psycho-stimulants fail.

Some parents in the study are receiving the drug, while others are receiving professional training in ways to manage ADHD and ASD symptoms and behaviors.  Still others are receiving both therapies.

“What we’re trying to do is have the greatest possible impact,” said Michael Aman, who is leading the study, in a news release.  “Obviously, it gives us an opportunity to look at each technique in isolation, but more importantly, it enables us to look at the combination of the two treatments and to see if there is a bonus.” 
As for the pill, Aman says “this is the first truly different medicine that has come along in several decades.”

Image: Father working with son, via Shutterstock.

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