How effective is ECT as a treatment? How does ECT work? What are the risks?

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is well known to psychiatrists as a highly effective and safe treatment for severe neuropsychiatric conditions. ECT’s reputation in the lay public suffers from stigma based partially on historically accurate accounts of its use, especially pre-anesthesia, and partially on widely-propagated falsehoods, including that it causes brain damage. Based on this stigma, ECT has been the subject of laws limiting its use, particularly in children. Autism is a debilitating neurodevelopmental condition. Parents of children with autism are sometimes known to pursue non-traditional treatments and many things purported to treat autism have little scientific evidence to back them up. In this module, learners will read and critique a 2016 article from The Atlantic on the use of ECT in children with autism.