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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder of varying severity and phenotypic expression that is characterized by persistent deficits in social relatedness, communication skills, and interfering repetitive behaviors. Associated behavioral pathology can include inattention, aggression, irritability, hyperactivity, anxiety, and self-injury. Currently, FDAapproved treatments exist to treat secondary symptoms but not core symptomatology. The etiology of autism and other ASD is thought to be multifactorial but is not well understood. Some studies suggest that glutamate excitotoxicity may play a role in the pathogenesis of ASD. Memantine, an NMDAreceptor antagonist, could potentially address core symptoms in ASD by targeting disease-specific pathophysiology. Our patient, an 11-year-old Caucasian male, began treatment with memantine following parental request after learning of a phase II clinical trial utilizing the drug for treatment in autism.

Following one month of receiving memantine 5mg daily the patient reportedly began showing increased verbal communication at home. Despite the patient not exhibiting verbal communication on patient interview at the clinic, the guardians reported that the patient had begun using 30 plus newly learned words, and had learned to communicate via sign language. Continued improvement in communication was noted over the course of one year of treatment with memantine. Memantine is not yet approved for treatment of ASD. However, in this case it appeared effective for treating core deficits in verbal and non-verbal communication in a child with autism.


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