International Meeting for Autism Research: Should Medication for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders Be Prescribed Using Measurable and Observable Data? Preliminary Findings From a Teacher Questionnaire

Should Medication for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders Be Prescribed Using Measurable and Observable Data? Preliminary Findings From a Teacher Questionnaire

Friday, May 13, 2011
Elizabeth Ballroom E-F and Lirenta Foyer Level 2 (Manchester Grand Hyatt)
11:00 AM
A. M. Krasno1, L. K. Koegel1, H. Taras2, R. L. Koegel3 and W. Frea4, (1)Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, (2)Pediatrics, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, (3)University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, United States, (4)Autism Spectrum Therapies, Culver City, CA
Background: The current prevalence of medication usage among children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is high and has greatly increased in recent years (Oswald & Sonenklar, 2007; Aman, Lam, & Van Bourgondien, 2005). It is typical in current practice for a psychiatrist to prescribe medication to a child with ASD based on a brief interaction with the child coupled with parent report of his/her behaviors. Medication often continues to be used for many years, with an increasing probability for additional medications to be prescribed, as the individual grows older (Ebensen, Greenberg, Seltzer, & Aman, 2008). How these prescribing practices extend to the classroom, and whether educators are aware of which medication a child is on, is unknown. Also, there is a lack of research about the extent to which teachers, who are working with the children for many hours daily, provide information to the prescribing doctor with regard to any effects the medication is having on the child during the school day.

Objectives: A first step in this process was to assess whether teachers were knowledgeable regarding medication their students with ASD were taking, and if so, what type of medication. We also assessed what information, if any, is coordinated with the prescribing doctor.

Methods: One hundred and four families receiving Pivotal Response Treatment services through the Koegel Autism Center at University of California, Santa Barbara and other agencies in Southern California were surveyed to determine if their children were taking medication. Eleven of these families surveyed had children who were taking a prescribed medication. After obtaining parent consent, the teachers of the eleven children were given a questionnaire regarding medication information about those particular students.

Results: Of the eleven teacher questionnaires, 54% knew the children were taking medication. Of those, 9% (one teacher) knew what type of medication and none were aware of the dosage. None of the teachers were coordinating with the prescribing doctor, and only two of the teachers were reporting back to the parents only about any side effects.

Conclusions: The data from this survey suggest that there is a lack of coordination between teachers and prescribing doctors regarding medication information as it relates to child behavior and performance for children with ASD. It is currently not required for schools to monitor the effects a medication may have an a student with a disability; however, we would argue that because medications may positively or negatively affect a child’s behavior, it is important for teachers to know whether or not their students are on medication and for prescribing doctors to understand how the medications are effecting the child’s performance and behavior. Future research will assess whether coordination of information across professionals for monitoring the improvement of the behavior of a child with an ASD is warranted. This coordination may be essential for monitoring the effectiveness of medication use and ensuring that the child receives optimal services.

See more of: Services - I
See more of: Services
See more of: Prevalence, Risk factors & Intervention
| More