Presentation Title

MDMA-Assisted Therapy for Social Anxiety in Autistic Adults


This presentation will discuss findings from the first exploratory blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled study to suggest that symptoms of social anxiety associated with autism may be treatable with therapy in a clinic setting, assisted by two doses of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), spaced a month apart (Danforth, Struble, Yazar-Klosinski, & Grob, 2016). Intent to treat analysis of 12 autistic participants with severe social anxiety demonstrated an acceptable safety profile and feasibility, with significant and durable reduction in social anxiety, based on results from a 6-month follow-up. The study followed a placebo-controlled, double-blind methodology to explore safety and efficacy of a flexible dosing regimen of two sessions with 75-125 mg MDMA or placebo control. The primary outcome measure was the Leibowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS) administered by a blinded independent rater. Secondary outcome measures include self-reported symptoms of anxiety, depression, emotion regulation, perceived stress, tests of social inference, and interpersonal reactivity. All participants received core mindfulness training as a part of therapy. Encouraging safety and outcome data will be presented, which will be used to estimate statistical power for future safety and efficacy studies of MDMA-assisted therapy for treatment of social anxiety in autistic adults. Given the lack of treatments customized for autistic adults, the search for new treatment options for social anxiety is highly relevant.

Danforth, A. L., Struble, C. M., Yazar-Klosinski, B., & Grob, C. S. (2016). MDMA-assisted therapy: A new treatment model for social anxiety in autistic adults. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 64, 237–249.