Doctors, Prescribed Medications, and Autism

Posted on June 08, 2018

When a child with autism has behavioral problems, parents or caregivers often seek help from therapists or various kinds of medical doctors. Sometimes they can make the changes they need to with non-medication solutions. Often, however, parents and caregivers will ask doctors if psychotropic medications would be appropriate for their children. These medications can be helpful for a variety of behavior concerns including aggression, hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, and attention difficulties.

Just as there are a variety of behaviors that medications can treat, there are also a variety of doctors who can prescribe them. Members report seeing pediatricians, developmental pediatricians, psychiatrists, neurologists, specialists, and naturopathic doctors. There is no one “right” type of doctor.

On MyAutismTeam, the social network and online support group for parents of kids with autism, members talk about a range of personal experiences and struggles. We looked at what members say about the types of doctors who prescribed medications for behavioral problems. MyAutismTeam members say these are the types of doctors who prescribed medications to children:

Types of Doctors Who Prescribed Medications to Children

Based on Conversations on MyAutismTeam, April-September 2017

Methodology: Analysis of mentions of prescribing doctors from April 1- September 12,
2017 on MyAutismTeam. There were 212 mentions of doctors.

This is how Autism expert, Dr. Todd Levine, describes these different types of doctors:

Pediatricians or Family Practitioners: These doctors are often the “first line” of care and
have training in the overall health of children. Many parents start with their pediatrician or
family practitioner about their child’s behavior and receive medication treatment from
them. There tends to be more of these types of doctors in most communities.

Neurologists: These doctors have specific training in how the brain and nervous system
function. They are often asked to prescribe psychiatric medications as the brain and behavior are clearly linked. Depending on your community, neurologists may be hard to access.

Developmental Pediatricians: These doctors train as pediatricians and then receive
specialized training in the behavior and development of children. As they specialize in this
area, they are also asked to help the behavior of children using psychiatric medications but
may be hard to access as there are few of them.

Psychiatrists: These doctors have specific training in the emotional and behavioral treatment
of adults and children and have the most training in the use of psychiatric medications.
However, psychiatrists tend to be the hardest type of doctor to access since there are so
few of them.

There are also other disciplines including naturopathic doctors, who focus on natural remedies along with traditional treatments, and nurses with advanced training.

Here are some conversations about parents or caregivers’ experiences with doctors who prescribe medication:

If you can find a developmental pediatrician that specializes in autism that may be helpful to have that person advise you.

He has severe behavioral issues. I am trying to find meds that may help…

He needs meds for impulse control, hyperactivity, and focus.

Here are some question-and-answer threads about the types of doctors who prescribe meds:

Developmental pediatrician vs. neuropsychologist?

Can I have some input about stimulants?

Have another topic you'd like to discuss or explore? Go to MyAutismTeam today and start the conversation. You'll be surprised just how many others may share similar stories.

Feel free to ask a question here.

A MyAutismTeam Member said:

We tried anti-depressants for my ASD son when he was 12 due to excessive OCD. WORST MISTAKE ever. It made him depressed, angry, violent, suicidal, he… read more

posted about 1 month ago

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