Methylphenidate is a form of medication known as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. It is also known as methylphenidylacetate hydrochloride or MPH.
Methylphenidate is sold under various brand names including Attenta, Concerta, Daytrana, Metadate, Methylin, Ritalin and Rubifen.
Methylphenidate is believed to work by increasing the amount of dopamine, a natural chemical, found in the brain. Increasing the amount of dopamine is believed to improve self-control, attention and concentration.
Methylphenidate is commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), although it is also sometimes used to treat narcolepsy.
Some people believe that methylphenidate can be used with some individuals on the autism spectrum to reduce problem behaviours, such as hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention.
There is strong research evidence to suggest that methylphenidate may be beneficial for the treatment of hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention in some children and young people on the autism spectrum.
There is limited research evidence to suggest that methylphenidate may be useful for the treatment of other behaviours in children and young people on the autism spectrum. Those behaviours include anger and aggression, as well as restricted and repetitive behaviours.
There is almost no research evidence to suggest that methylphenidate may be useful for the treatment of adults on the autism spectrum.
There is evidence of significant side effects of methylphenidate in some individuals. Those side effects may include insomnia, nervousness, headache, decreased appetite, abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal symptoms, and cardiovascular effects such as tachycardia, palpitations and minor increases in blood pressure.
We believe that methylphenidate should only be used as part of a comprehensive treatment programme for ADHD, under specialist supervision, where remedial measures alone prove insufficient.
Methylphenidate should be discontinued if there is no response after 1 month, and treatment should be suspended periodically to assess the child's condition.
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