A retrospective open trial of adjunctive donepezil in children and adolescents with autistic disorder JOURNAL OF CHILD AND ADOLESCENT PSYCHOPHARMACOLOGY Hardan, A. Y., Handen, B. L. 2002; 12 (3): 237-241


In light of the recently reported neuropathologic and neurochemical abnormalities of the cholinergic pathways in autism, donepezil, a cholinesterase inhibitor, is a potentially useful agent in the treatment of cognitive and behavioral symptoms observed in this disorder. A retrospective pilot study was conducted to determine whether donepezil is effective in the treatment of children and adolescents with autism. Eight patients (mean age = 11.0 +/- 4.1 years; range 7-19 years) who met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th edition) criteria for autistic disorder were openly treated with donepezil. All patients were on concomitant psychoactive medications. Four of these patients (50%) demonstrated significant improvement as assessed by the Aberrant Behavior Checklist and the Clinical Global Impression Scale. Decreases in the Irritability and Hyperactivity subscales were observed, but no changes in the Inappropriate Speech, Lethargy, and Stereotypies subscales were noted. Limited and transient side effects were reported, with one patient experiencing gastrointestinal disturbances and another reporting mild irritability. Double-blind, placebo-controlled investigations are needed to provide further evidence of the potential benefits of donepezil to patients with autistic disorder.

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View details for PubMedID 12427297