Beta blocker could improve autistic adults' conversational skills, study indicates
The study, conducted by a team at the University of Missouri's Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, showed that propranolol, a beta blocker, could temporarily help adults with autism with their ability to speak.
"Propranolol was first reported to improve the language and sociability skills of individuals with autism in 1987," David Beversdorf, neurologist and the study's senior author, said. "But the effect was never verified with a controlled trial comparing propranolol with a placebo, or dummy pill."
The autism study, which included 19 males and one female, showed that a single dose of the beta blocker helped patients to be able to speak back and forth in a conversation. Improvement occurred about an hour after the dose of propranolol was given.
"Though more research is needed to study its effects after more than one dose, these preliminary results show a potential benefit of propranolol to improve the conversational and nonverbal skills of individuals with autism," Beversdorf said. "Next, we hope to study the drug in a large clinical trial to establish the effects of regular doses and determine who would most likely benefit from this medication."