Known for its benefic properties, oxytocin is a molecule that helps mothers during childbirth and subsequently to take care of the baby during the nursing period. It helps newbie moms to bond with their babies and to develop maternal instincts. Usually, in individuals, oxytocin is also known as the “happiness molecule” which brings in self-confidence and attention towards another person.
Due to these properties, oxytocin was used in several studies to determine how it may improve autism spectrum disorder symptoms. Larry Young, from the Department of Psychiatry Emory University School of Medicine, provided some explanations to the media regarding the evolution of these studies.
As an initial step, the team in charge of this research created a nasal spray that could easily be inhaled by autistic children before going to school. Then, they devised a method that involved the administration of oxytocin as a drug.
Unfortunately, these research failed in its objective since the subjects reacted differently to these clinical trials. The nasal spray effects did not last all day and it was, at times, associated with bad experiences. Additionally, given the complexities associated with the various types of autism and the varying degree of genetic and social impairments that each child suffers, the one-size-fits-all nasal spray approach did not work. Implicitly, not every child will react in the same way as a response to a certain treatment.
Due to these findings discovered so far, Young believes that oxytocin supplements need to be complemented with behavioral therapy sessions in order to provide the expected results. According to Larry, “We think targeting the oxytocin system when it’s combined with therapy will allow the child’s brain to pay more attention to the therapy and gain more out of it.”
Young requested parents not to jump the gun and get too excited about the prospect of oxytocin being a potential cure for Autism. Parents of autistic children tend to keep track of evolving studies in this area with the hope that a new method of autism treatment is just around the corner. Young warned parents not to jump to premature conclusions as the findings on the effectiveness of oxytocin for autism treatment is still inconclusive.
“There’s a history in autism research where whenever there is something that shows positive effects, many parents get all excited and want to try it for themselves. What we want to bring out is that while there is a lot of potential, there still are a lot of caveats and we’re not at the point where you can just walk to the pharmacy and get this supplement for your child“.
On the other hand, they should not lose their faith because Dr. Young and his team are working now on another promising study and are optimistic regarding the findings they will encounter. He recommended to the parents to maintain their level of optimism while exercising a bit of concern.