Older children, kids who had seen a psychiatrist and those diagnosed with an additional condition, such as depression or seizures, were more likely to have been prescribed one or more psychotropic medications, the study found.
"The study couldn't tell why older children were more likely to receive psychotropic medication, but one reason could be that the doctor's comfort level with medication in older children is greater," Jain said.
"Another potential reason is that doctors may have started a younger child on behavioral therapy that hasn't worked for every symptom, and now they want to try medications for the remaining symptoms," she added.
Also, behaviors in an older, larger child might become harder to manage, these experts suggested. "A challenging behavior in a big teenage boy with an autism spectrum disorder will make a parent and a doctor more willing to try medication than the same behavior in a smaller 4-year-old," said Wang.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about treatment for kids with autism.
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