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FDA Approves Abilify for Children with Autism

By November 24, 2009

Abilify, an anti-psychotic drug, has been approved for treatment of "irritability" in children with autism. According to a Reuters article:

The FDA decision allows Abilify to be used in patients aged 6 to 17 for symptoms of aggression toward others, deliberate self injury, temper tantrums and quickly changing moods.

Abilify should be part of a total treatment program that includes psychological, educational and social interventions for children with autistic disorder, the companies said in a statement.

You can read much more about Abilify in articles from the About.com Guide to Bipolar Disorder, including articles on the medication's chemistry, uses, side effects and impacts.

Are you considering Abilify for your child with autism? If so, what are your hopes and concerns?

November 24, 2009 at 11:18 am
(1) AnneS says:

Not considering it, and won’t consider it. All drugs come with side effects.

November 24, 2009 at 12:53 pm
(2) chris says:

Tried it for my son… Worked somewhat.. He gained a ton of weight… but the other side effects were scary… One of which is involuntary twitches and jerks that can become permanent. Needless to say, we took him off the drug.

September 6, 2011 at 1:27 am
(3) Sabrina says:

I have an autistic son and I was told when you start the kids on the antidepressants drugs you should not just take them off because you going to have some more major side effects coming talking from experience you should bring down the dose slowly and eventually bring the child off. I hope your son gets better and I wish you all blessings .

November 24, 2009 at 1:34 pm
(4) Chris says:

Started my 9 yr old son on abilify in 1/09. Has worked wonders for him with the only side affect being weight gain. However, the benefits outway the weight gain tremendously. He can focus, is more open to his peers, and aggressions have diminished so significantly its unbelievable. I was a medication skeptic. Wasnt until he was getting older and bigger and hurt me during a tantrum that I knew I needed to do something. Dr says he will be over 6 feet tall and i’m only 5’2″.He also started hitting children. It is worth a try for any child on teh spectrum that has extreme tantrums, aggression, and mood swings.

November 24, 2009 at 2:06 pm
(5) Aimee Rozum LMHC, ATR-BC says:

I work with several children who are on this med for mood stabilization (they are not on the spectrum). I have seen it work well but should be administered at low doses and by a doctor/RN who is experienced in child psychopharmacology.

November 24, 2009 at 11:14 pm
(6) Mark says:

Great. Now your child with autism can also enjoy the benefits of having severe obesity AND type II diabetes!

November 25, 2009 at 2:22 am
(7) Twyla says:

The company says “Abilify should be part of a total treatment program that includes psychological, educational and social interventions for children with autistic disorder…”

A couple of years ago I attended a lecture by Temple Grandin about meds, and she said something that I have also heard from many other sources. She said that in her experience, as a person with autism and having spoken with so many people with autism and parents around the world over the years, before trying meds you should try the gluten free/casein free/soy free diet. She said it’s not that hard — you can eat meat, vegetables, rice, potatoes, chicken, fish, fruit, and legumes. Try it for a few months and see whether there is a beneficial effect.

Others remind us that underlying medical conditions can cause pain and discomfort which can cause behavioral issues and anger. Healing the gut can help to calm a child (or adult).

Before trying a drug with so many potential side effects, read Karen Seroussi’s book “Unraveling the Mystery of Autism” and give the GFCFSF diet a try.

November 25, 2009 at 4:04 am
(8) NorwayMom says:

I would consider it, if I was convinced that mood instability was the cause of the aggression. But anxiety, lack of impulse control, sensory issues, and hormones can also play a part. I have a collection of aggression-related resources here:


November 25, 2009 at 7:10 am
(9) autism says:

Norway Mom – what a great point. Twyla, too. There’s an inclination on the part of many docs, I think, to assume that behaviors are caused by mood instability when there are so many other possibilities (especially in the case of a person with limited verbal abilities).

Maybe a good tip for parents would be “before trying a drug that comes with the risk of serious side effects, be sure your doctor has investigated physical issues that could underlie the aggression – GI pain, sensory issues, etc.

On which point: have many of you readers tried ritalin or similar with your impulsive child with autism? If so, have you seen positive results? Ritalin may not be ideal, but it is very well researched and comes with few side effects… but may not be especially useful for kids with autism.


November 25, 2009 at 1:09 pm
(10) Twyla says:

I remember someone telling about a nonverbal girl with autism who suddenly developed absolutely terrible behavioral problems and it turned out that she had a broken infected tooth! After having the necessary dental work done she was happy and well behaved again. Apparently she had been in great pain but unable to say so.

If only all medical/dental issues were that clear cut. At any rate, when the company said “Abilify should be part of a total treatment program including…” they left out medical treatment.

November 30, 2009 at 12:22 pm
(11) Donna says:

autism……..my son has been on many dif drugs , some caused rediculous weight gain , some made him in such a fog that he coudnt even tell u his name. Ritalin ( the original regular not long acting ) has been almost the miracle drug. The long acting ones seem to put him in a fog. On ritalin , he can control his outburtst , reduce pacing ( which he does ALOT) , and focus at school . ( he has aspergers & is in regular ed classes). And lastly , he hasnt had any bad side effects.

June 20, 2010 at 12:20 am
(12) aldercyper says:

species world emitted

April 26, 2011 at 9:14 pm
(13) Marie says:

Ok. What are we suppose to do when noone including the doctors don’t know how to treat it or when the vaccine companies don’t want to take responsibility for what they done to our children? We have to try something! There are waiting lists for everything. You have to wait almost a year to be seeing by a specialist and then the insurance companies that we sent money to don’t want to cover the treatment. Someone tell me what are parents suppose to do?

August 30, 2011 at 2:40 pm
(14) PaulaM says:

Before you are so quick to judge parents for trying medications for their autistic children, you should at LEAST get your facts straight. There has not been ONE documented case of Type 2 Diabetes caused by Resperidone or Abilify used on children with autism between the ages of 5 and 16! Weight gain is hard to deal with, but having our daughters LIVES as risk due to his uncontrollable aggression outWEIGHS (pun intended) this complication. My autistic son has nearly drowned my youngest in the tub and has pushed my oldest down a flight of stairs! He has split both my lips open, broken my nose and given me several black eyes! Medicine has helped a LOT, and his lipids are still normal despite some substantial weight gain. Lets HELP eachother not JUDGE eachother, for crying out loud, this is HARD ENOUGH!!

September 23, 2011 at 2:30 pm
(15) KMD says:

Well said, Paula.

Before you criticise and judge parents who are living a virtual nightmare through their child’s issues, walk/flap/rock/pace a mile in their shoes.

I cannot believe the judgmental remarks made here. By the time any sensible parent arrives in a psychiatrist’s office with their child, they’ve done the evaluations and the experimental “try this, try that”. And before any sensible psychiatrist writes a script for anything they make sure it’s appropriate.

Can the snotty remarks, people. Parents of Aspies have enough to contend with without your contribution.

August 30, 2011 at 2:44 pm
(16) PaulaM says:

And the GCFC diet had no effect on his behavior. Expensive and difficult to enforce. He wouldn’t eat most of the cr@p and I couldn’t have my other children eating things he loved when he couldn’t so EVERYONE had to suffer. I’m glad it helps some people, but it’s not a miracle answer by any means. Even children who are much better on the GCFC diet STILL have autism. Not to mention there is no medical evidence that it does anything for autism.

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