Ketamine and the core symptoms of autism

Theodore Kastner, Kevin Walsh, Lisa Shulman, Farah Alam, Samuel Flood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a behavioral syndrome characterized by (a) persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts and (b) restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities. However, the etiology of autism in most cases remains unknown. Ketamine, an N-Methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) blocker, has been purported by some as a possible treatment for autism. This conclusion is premature. Here, we present a single case study in which a patient with a severe intellectual disability was said to have demonstrated a dramatic, albeit short-lived, remission of the core symptoms of autism following adventitious treatment with ketamine. Although this anecdote is encouraging, we argue that further analysis of ketamine as a treatment for autism is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-123
Number of pages3
JournalInternational Journal on Disability and Human Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • autism
  • behavior
  • ketamine
  • psychopharmacology
  • secretin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Sensory Systems
  • Speech and Hearing
  • Rehabilitation
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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