A drug called atomoxetine eases hyperactivity in children who have both autism and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A parent-led therapy also improves symptoms, although to a lesser extent than either the drug alone or a combination of the two.
The standard treatment for children who have both disorders is the use of stimulants, which often either do not work or cause intolerable side effects. The new approaches point to more palatable alternatives, said lead investigator Benjamin Handen, PhD, professor of psychiatry, pediatrics, and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh.
About one-third of children with autism also have ADHD. Stimulants such as methylphenidate (commonly marketed as Ritalin) work well in children who have ADHD alone, but tend to be less effective in children who have both disorders. They are also more likely to cause insomnia and a loss of appetite in those with autism than in those with ADHD alone.
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