Serotonergic abnormalities have long been associated with autism, as has interest in serotonergic mechanisms in the manifestation of affective disturbance. In spite of their widespread use, there are no controlled clinical trials of any serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) in children with autism to support this practice. Citalopram is the newest of the SRIs to become available in the U.S., and offers some potential pharmacokinetic advantages over the other drugs in its class. We propose to study the treatment of affective disturbance in children with autism through experiments addressing three specific aims:
Aim I. To determine if the serotonin reuptake inhibitor, citalopram, is effective in the treatment of behavioral disturbance in children with autism.
Aim II. To determine if physiological or genetic markers, measures of family function, or particular pretreatment symptoms are predictive of sensitivity and response to treatment with citalopram.
Aim I ll. To better understand the response in clinical trials of children with autism by identifying factors influencing parent and clinician ratings of change and to develop new strategies by which to capture the response to therapeutic interventions. Beyond a clinical trial, then, this project will study how best to capture meaningful treatment response in children with autism. Recent experience with clinical trials in this population suggests that current assessment strategies can be improved. Current measures may be susceptible to nonspecific influences that show up as placebo effects. Likewise, important clinical improvement may go uncaptured or be diluted with assessment instruments currently employed. This proposal integrates data from the other projects in the Center, and will set the stage for the Center's role not only to advance knowledge of autism through important research, but to be an ongoing resource to children and families through education and treatment. By formally studying current treatment and by developing new assessment strategies and improving regional accessibility for evaluation and treatment of children with autism, the Center will be positioned to efficiently collaborate with other Centers in the network, and will be a pivotal resource to UDDer New Enaland.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Specialized Center--Cooperative Agreements (U54)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Boston University
United States
Zip Code
Mian, Nicholas D; Soto, Timothy W; Briggs-Gowan, Margaret J et al. (2018) The Family Life Impairment Scale: Factor Structure and Clinical Utility with Young Children. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol :1-12
Giserman Kiss, Ivy; Feldman, Melanie S; Sheldrick, R Christopher et al. (2017) Developing Autism Screening Criteria for the Brief Infant Toddler Social Emotional Assessment (BITSEA). J Autism Dev Disord 47:1269-1277
Venker, Courtney E; Bolt, Daniel M; Meyer, Allison et al. (2015) Parent Telegraphic Speech Use and Spoken Language in Preschoolers With ASD. J Speech Lang Hear Res 58:1733-46
Green, Shulamite A; Carter, Alice S (2014) Predictors and course of daily living skills development in toddlers with autism spectrum disorders. J Autism Dev Disord 44:256-63
King, Bryan H; Dukes, Kimberly; Donnelly, Craig L et al. (2013) Baseline factors predicting placebo response to treatment in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders: a multisite randomized clinical trial. JAMA Pediatr 167:1045-52
Hallett, Victoria; Lecavalier, Luc; Sukhodolsky, Denis G et al. (2013) Exploring the manifestations of anxiety in children with autism spectrum disorders. J Autism Dev Disord 43:2341-52
Oblak, Adrian; Gibbs, Terrell T; Blatt, Gene J (2013) Reduced serotonin receptor subtypes in a limbic and a neocortical region in autism. Autism Res 6:571-83
Ben-Sasson, A; Soto, T W; Martínez-Pedraza, F et al. (2013) Early sensory over-responsivity in toddlers with autism spectrum disorders as a predictor of family impairment and parenting stress. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 54:846-53
Green, Shulamite A; Ben-Sasson, Ayelet; Soto, Timothy W et al. (2012) Anxiety and sensory over-responsivity in toddlers with autism spectrum disorders: bidirectional effects across time. J Autism Dev Disord 42:1112-9
Scahill, Lawrence; McCracken, James T; Bearss, Karen et al. (2012) Design and subject characteristics in the federally-funded citalopram trial in children with pervasive developmental disorders. J Autism Dev Disord 42:432-40

Showing the most recent 10 out of 38 publications