A drug, commonly used as a beta blocker, improved social difficulties in people with high functioning autism, according to research from the University of Missouri, Columbia. The study participants showed improvement in nonverbal communication and verbal problem solving after taking this drug.
|Credit: National Institutes for Health|
In the study, the drug propranolol was given to 20 people with high functioning autism. Then, the participants underwent cognitive and sociability testing. After one dose of propranolol, researchers saw demonstrated improvement in “performance-based measure(s) of social competence” in the study participants.
“We have drugs to treat anxiety and irritability in individuals with ASD, but not for the core symptom of impaired social communication,” said Dr. David Beversdorf, the principal investigator. “Propranolol is worth further exploration in individuals with ASD,” he added. “Perhaps at a sustained, serial dosage, we’d see a more robust effect of the drug. We also don’t know if it works for lower-functioning individuals or younger children [with ASD].”
The research was presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research.