What are typical antipsychotics?
Typical antipsychotics are medicines that are traditionally prescribed to people for psychotic disorders and symptoms like hallucinations, delusions and hostility. These medicines are also prescribed to control tics.
Some commonly prescribed typical antipsychotics for autism are haloperidol, chlorpromazine and fluphenazine. These medicines are also known as neuroleptics.
Who are typical antipsychotics for?
Any autistic person can use typical antipsychotics. Young children can use some of these medicines.
What are typical antipsychotics used for?
Research suggests that typical antipsychotics can be used to treat behaviour issues like aggressive behaviour, severe tantrums, hyperactive behaviour, withdrawal and repetitive behaviour, which autistic people often experience.
Where do typical antipsychotics come from?
Typical antipsychotics were first developed in the 1950s as a treatment for serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia.
In the 1970s and 1980s, researchers started testing typical antipsychotics for use with autistic children, as a possible treatment for behaviour characteristics. These tests showed some significant side effects. This led to the development of atypical antipsychotics, which have fewer side effects.
What is the idea behind typical antipsychotics?
Problems with brain chemicals called neurotransmitters can lead to increased activity in certain areas of the brain. This increased activity might underlie the behaviour characteristics of autism. The idea is that typical antipsychotics alter the way neurotransmitters work and therefore help to control these behaviour characteristics.
What does the use of typical antipsychotics involve?
This therapy involves taking oral medicine on a daily basis. The specific medicine and dosage depends on a person’s individual needs.
This medicine has a risk of significant side effects, so a specialist doctor like a psychiatrist should monitor the child taking the medicine. The child needs to have regular appointments with this doctor. They also need regular health checks that include liver function tests.
Do typical antipsychotics help autistic children?
This therapy has not yet been rated.
Significant side effects have been noted with the use of typical antipsychotics. These side effects include stiffness, restlessness and involuntary movements.
The risk of severe side effects increases if a person uses the medicine over a long period of time or takes amounts higher than the optimal dose. For this reason, long-term use isn’t recommended, and atypical antipsychotics have become a more popular option. Atypical antipsychotics might also be more effective.
Who practises this method?
GPs, paediatricians and psychiatrists can prescribe typical antipsychotics and give you information about the potential benefits and risks of using them.
Where can you find a practitioner?
Speak to your GP or paediatrician or a child psychiatrist about typical antipsychotics.
You can find psychiatrists at Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists – Find a psychiatrist.
Parent education, training, support and involvement
If your child is taking typical antipsychotics, you need to ensure that your child takes the medicine as required. You also need to monitor the effects of the medicine.
The cost of this therapy varies depending on the brand of medicine used and its dose or strength. It also depends on whether the medicine is covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and whether you hold a concession card like a Health Care Card.
Therapies and supports for autistic children range from behaviour therapies and developmental approaches to medicines and alternative therapies. When you understand the main types of therapies and supports for autistic children, it’ll be easier to work out the approach that will best suit your child.