LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Las Vegas is just one of 25 cities across the US and abroad, chosen for an experimental study that is specifically looking at managing irritability that can often accompany autism.
It’s a decision every parent has to make, what’s best for your child.
For Heather-Lei Ambos, it’s not an easy decision to make for her son, who has autism.
“I don’t want to put my 8-year-old on an anti-psychotic if I don’t have to,” she said. “He’ll scream, sometimes hit. A lot of sensory issues and when he gets overloaded he lashes out.”
Ambos said she has even had to install special locks to keep her son safe.
“Dementia locks to keep him from being able to go outside when he’s in a mood because he will scale the fence,” she explained.
Currently, there are not a lot of treatment options available for teens dealing with autism.
Dr. Ann Childress is an adjunct associate professor at UNLV and Touro University and describes the challenges some parents may face.
“Of the patients that have autism, probably about 20% have irritability and aggression. The irritability may include biting, kicking, screaming, tantrums,” she said.
That’s where Assembly Bill 2004 comes in, it targets a bacteria in the gut that researchers say
may be responsible for some of that bad behavior.
The drug, which can be sprinkled in food, doesn’t get absorbed into the bloodstream.
“It binds those bacterial toxins,” Childress explains.
She has worked on about 200 clinical trials and is now looking for teens ages 13 to 17 to participate in a study taking place in the Las Vegas valley.
“It’s a couple thousand dollars worth of medical care that’s free,” she added.
It’s a double-blind study, meaning some teens will get the medication and others will receive a placebo.
Dr. Childress added that the initial results are promising.
Ambos’ son is not old enough to take part in the study, however, she is hopeful the assembly bill is in their future because as her son grows and gets stronger, she says it’s become more difficult.
“Even if he can’t grow up to be functional enough to live on his own, we’d like to keep him home. And with aggression, physical aggression, that’s not going to be possible,” Ambos added.
The study is eight weeks long and includes six doctor visits.
For more information on the autism study click HERE.