A recent study review concludedthat risperidone (Risperdal), generallyused to control symptoms of schizophrenia,might be beneficial for treatingautism-related behaviors, such asirritability, repetition, and hyperactivity.Because of the few studies used in thisreview, the researchers examined onlythose 3 specific symptoms.
Reviewers arrived at their conclusionsfrom 3 randomized, placebo-controlledstudies that included 211 participants,31 of whom were adults. Because thestudies reviewed were of short duration,the long-term effects of risperidonefor treating autistic behaviors arenot yet known. Researchers warn,however, that side effects, such asweight gain and involuntary musclemovements, may detract from anybenefits.
Susan Levy, MD, director of the RegionalAutism Center at The Children'sHospital in Philadelphia, Pa, noted,"The researchers seemed to be lukewarmtoward their positive findings.From personal experience, this medicationcan be quite helpful for behavioraldifficulties."She did, however,advise that expectations not be toohigh for this medication and that it is a"serious medication"for more severedifficulties. "This is not a cure for autismor the core symptoms,"she said.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medicalwriter based in Wakefield, RI.