Thursday, November 12, 2009
Many children with autism have ADHD like behavior and do well on stimulant drugs. Most pediatricians and family practice physicians have no problem prescribing these medications. But I am a psychologist practicing in a rural area and often see children who have no health insurance or their health insurance won't pay for the treatment of autism. So I'm supposed to treat a child with autism who has no access to a physician, and no way to pay for medication. Well, people in a rural area learn to get by with what they have available and I guess that includes me. Caffeine contains methylxanthine, which is a mild stimulate similar to what is found in ADHD stimulate drugs. (Stimulate drugs often have a paradoxical effect on ADHD behavior--decreasing it rather than increasing it.) Coffee can sometimes be used as a replacement ADHD drug sometimes in children as well as "energy drinks" like Red Bull. The problem is dosage. A child would have to drink a lot of coffee to get the equivalent stimulant effect of a large dose of an ADHD drug. But when only a small dosage in needed caffeine can work.