Any prescribed medication other than SSRI for ASD child with anxiety, tension, and agitation | Ambitious about Autism
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Any prescribed medication other than SSRI for ASD child with anxiety, tension, and agitation

Alexh786's picture

Any prescribed medication other than SSRI for ASD child with anxiety, tension, and agitation

Sun 21 Jul 2013 4:51am

Hi All,

I am new to this forum. My son is 4 years old and has been diagnosed with moderate autism. He has been through all the therapies ABA and IBI, but the meltdowns just won't go away. Also we have noticed evenings are full of anxiety, repitition of words, sometimes stimming. He is about to start school in September, but our apprehension is, if he can easily settle in maintstream school without any problems. Is there any medication other than SSRI that can relieve my child's anxiety? Thanks. From: Always a very loving and worried father.

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  • Mullybum's picture

    Hi Alexh786 welcome to the forum Smile

    I just had to google IBI, hadn't heard of that before. Stimming can be a way of the child calming themselves, do you try to stop him when he stims or let him carry on with it? My son's behaviour gets worse in the evening due to tiredness, I think that is the case for a lot of children whether they are autistic or not lol. My daughter who is not on the spectrum used to have a mad half hour before bedtime. Does your son have sensory issues? Would using a weighted vest or 'bear hug' (elasticated corset)help to calm him, or having somewhere he can go to chill out like a dark den with sensory toys and lights in? Or alternatively would letting him get rid of his excess energy help, a lot of people on here have suggested trampoline. My son is only 3 and can't jump yet but he's learning to bounce on our bed so hopefully will be able to do it soon! 

    I have just got a Bach Flower Remedy for my son, it's a kids version of Rescue Remedy so I will let you know if it helps to calm him when he's getting agitated. Do you have a statement in place for when he starts school and have the school discussed how they will be able to support him?

    We switched to GF/CF diet 9 months ago and have seen huge improvements in behaviour and concentration. It doesn't work for everyone but might be worth a try if you haven't already. We got the ok from our paed and saw a dietician. We used to have frequent violent meltdowns with self harming all through the day, and they decreased significantly in frequency and in intensity. He's generally a lot calmer and happier since the diet change. 

    I don't know anything about medication, personally as your child is so young I think I would try to alleviate the causes of his anxiety first by making sure that school are doing everything they can to help him - using visual timetables, letting him have a quiet space when things are overloading him, etc. 

  • barnabear's picture

    Generally other medications are available than SSRI's. Recently (in the last 3 weeks) I have been taking very low doses (500 micrograms twice daily) of Fluanxol (Flupentixol) in addition to Citalopram (an SSRI) for anxiety and have found it helpful.

    However I have no idea whether this could be prescribed for a 4 year old and whether it would be right for your child in any case. As an overweight adult, my body mass is much higher than your child and I only take a very very small dose.

    When I was a child (1960's) I was prescribed phenobarbitone, I was very anxious but my underlying AS wasn't diagnosed until I was 50 (a bit late, I think). Phenobarbitone is not widely used now as I understand it, so probably not appropriate now.

    I am not a doctor, you must get appropriate medical advice, I'm just relating my experiences with various medications. All medicines have side effects and risks.

    I hope this is of help and that I have emphasized the importance of getting the right medical advice sufficiently.

    Barnabear. free bear
  • MikeS's picture

    Hi Alex,

    The Research Autism website has sections on interventions for tantrums and autism and anxiety and autism that might be helpful for you.

    Mike - Former Community Manager
  • Alexh786's picture

    Hi Sharon,

    Sorry for the delayed reply. Yes my son has sensory issues. Garage door, blender, vacuum cleaner, even microwave sounds sometimes drives him crazy. We have not tried to stop his stimming, sometimes he scratches us as well. Since he is close to his dad, he doesn't scratch me, but when my wife says "no" in a stern way that is when he scratches. I will try your suggestions of using a weighted vest, or den to calm him down. We have spent a few thousand on DAN doctor, but his diets did not help him at all, the probiotics, chlorophyll drops etc. Only melatonin helped him at nights and that too we had to wean him off, as the doctor was saying there are long term effects. My son has limited diet, he eats toast butter, sometimes pizza, sometimes icecream (melted), fries from Mcdonald's, coke he can't resist, and chocolates makes him super hyper, and vanilla milk. We tried giving him soy milk and it did not work. We add pediasure with his milk, and Milo that is pretty much it. I really appreciate all your support, thanks to burnabear and Mike Stuart, I will continue to find answers for my son and will not give up. If his anxiety is taken away, he can be normal just as other kids. Many thanks to all of you.

  • Mullybum's picture

    Hi again Smile

    Have you seen an occupational therapist about the sensory issues? We are on our second now she works at the special school where my son is starting in September. She has shown us deep pressure techniques, joint compression, how to use a physio ball to give him feedback (we just got a peanut physio ball and it's great). Some OTs are more qualified than others in sensory integration, our first one (at CDC at hospital) felt that she didn't have the experience necessary so made the referral to the second one. Vibration sensory toys can help too. 

    Re the noise sensitivity we have had lots of problems with that, as a baby he would scream if people laughed or coughed, we didn't pick up on these things at the time. Even now he can be disturbed by people talking in the same room (certain people - maybe something to do with tone or pitch). 'People' noises seem to be the worst thing for us - and at our CDC group a little girl joined who had a really loud cry and that sent him into meltdown every time. There are ways of desensitising to noises, we used to have problem with the hairdryer so I would use it in the kitchen, he would come to the doorway and cry so I would turn if off. Then put it on in short bursts, over time he would come into the room and now he's really not bothered by it. I've also read that you can record a noise that distresses your child and play it in a room where other things are gong on, as a background noise, but at a low volume. And then gradually increase the volume over time. That is supposed to desensitise too. Haven't tried that one myself! I know that you can get cds of general noises, outside noises etc but not sure where you can buy them, but my SALT mentioned it to us. I can understand the blender being a bad one, it's loud and high pitched isn't it. Maybe a hand blender would be better. We also had same problem with hoover but when it broke and we replaced it the new one was quieter and had a different sound and he's been ok with that one. We didn't know it was quieter when we got it! 

    My son hits himself when he's told no rather than lashing out, he does lash out sometimes and I tell him no slapping etc and then ignore him. 

    How is his speech? Do you use any visual aids at all? You can get pecs that are made into social stories to help children to understand that things like scratching etc aren't acceptable, sometimes it really helps for them to see it as a visual rather than just being told that it's naughty.

    This shop on ebay is really good and she will customise things too. Then there are books you can get about social behaviour which may help.

    I have heard reports about DAN doctors and people like yourself spending thousands of pounds with no significant improvement. Sometimes I think that you have to think outside the box and rather than try to 'cure' your child which isn't going to happen (he's always going to be autistic) then try to embrace his autism instead and accept that it's part of who he is. Rather than trying to change him to fit in with society maybe acceptance that he's different - and different isn't necessarily a bad thing. We made the decision to put my son into specialist school with autism unit because we knew he could not cope with the setting at our local primary - 3 open plan reception classes so 90 children running around, even though they have their own areas he could not cope with that. He would not be able to concentrate and would not be able to learn. The school he's starting in September is fantastic, he will be in an autism class with 3 other boys. So 4 children, and 3 staff. They all get one to one time during the day, where they encourage their strengths and work on areas that they are struggling in. It's routine based and they use pecs and other visual aids and timetables. It's all tailored to the individual child's needs, and we were told that the class they have at the moment half of them are doing really well academically and the other half are more developmentally delayed, so they do different activities and ways of teaching with individual children. 

    The special school is in the same building as the primary school, so that children from the special needs classes can be integrated into mainstream classes if they feel they will benefit from spending time with their typically developing peers. They all follow the same topics at the same time too, just taught in different ways. 

    What I'm saying is don't rule out specialist education completely, play it by ear and see how your son does at mainstream, if the setting isn't right for him then no matter how good the senco and teacher and other staff are, he might not be able to learn in that environment. If he has a statement then it will be reviewed every 6 months until he's 5 and then every year and if at any point they feel that he's not progressing in that setting then you can rethink and possibly move him.

    Will have to finish this post later as little man is trying to delete it lol!!!! 

  • Mullybum's picture

    Sorry about that and the full novel I've written! 

    just wanted to say that if the melatonin helped with his sleep then it might be worth considering again. My stepmum met a young man who is autistic and was chatting to him about my son, and his sleeping problems and he said that his mother putting him on melatonin was the best thing she ever did. Before it he could not sleep, so could not concentrate or learn anything. We tried it with my son and it worked brilliantly but after 2 days he came out in a rash, so we stopped but the paediatrician said it's very rare to get any side effects and if we want to try it again she will admit him into hospital overnight so that he can be monitored in case of another reaction. I will ask her about long term effects as I wasn't aware there were any problems.

    You son's diet is very limited so it must be really hard, I do feel for you. Have you seen a dietician? I know that a lot of people on the forum have had similar problems with food issues so might be able to offer some advice on that one. 

    Finally wanted to share this with you. It's about an autistic boy who lives not too far away from me, who was diagnosed at a young age, had no speech until he was 5 or 6 and is now a wonderful, funny, clever young man who has a music career and inbetween travels round schools with his parents talking about autism. He made a dvd called 'Autism and me' which you can buy on amazon, there is a short version of it on youtube which I'll also post a link to but the long version is much better, the short one misses out a lot of his humour! Makes me really hopeful for my son's future when I see this Smile

  • Alexh786's picture

    Hi Sharon,

    Thanks a lot for all your great suggestions. I am trying to get SSRI medication through his Autism doctor. I will advise if it will help him calm down. The doctor says it is going to bring in sleep and is a very small dosage so there are not going to be any side effects. Again thanks for all your help and suggestions. He has been through many therapies we do have pecs for him and he recognize everything from the pecs. His communication has improved a lot but his anxiety justdoesn't go away.

  • connieapmag's picture

    Hello Alexh786, 

    Some of the most common co-occurring conditions people with autism experience are anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, seizure disorders, bipolar disorder, and gastrointestinal disease. A combination of therapy and medicine is typically used to treat these conditions.

    Autism medication for anxiety, epilepsy, anticonvulsants, and gastrointestinal autism medication

    Anticonvulsant medications are often used in the estimated 33 percent of children with autism who have a co-occurring seizure disorder. Gastrointestinal medications are used to treat symptoms such as acid reflux, constipation, and diarrhea that are common in children with ASD. The relationship between ASD and seizures and gastrointestinal distress is still unclear, but it can be helpful to recognize their relationship to ASD when observing your child’s behavior and managing wellbeing.

    Xanax, Niravam, Buspar, Ativan, Vivitrol, Valium, melatonin, and antihistamines are commonly used to manage seizure disorders in children with ASD. (“Medications,” 2016). Many of these medications also offer anti-anxiety benefits and may help your child sleep. Gastrointestinal autism medications, like all medications, are best matched to your child with the help of a pediatric specialist.

    Please feel free to learn more about autism medication and get your complimentary guide, visit

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