A treatment plan consisting of a combination of medication and a structured training program for parents can help reduce behavior problems in children with autism and related conditions, says a new study.
The research was conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Research Units on Pediatric Psychopharmacology (RUPP) Autism Network at Yale, Ohio State University and Indiana University.
Yale University researchers and their colleagues examined the benefits of the antipsychotic medication risperidone (Risperdal) plus a parent training program that actively involved parents in managing their children's severely disruptive and noncompliant behaviors.
Principal investigator Lawrence Scahill, professor at Yale School of Nursing and the Yale Child Study Center, found that the group receiving combination therapy showed greater reduction in disruptive behavior, tantrums and aggression compared to the group receiving medication only.
Scahill said: "The results show that the parent training intervention can be delivered in a reliable manner and results were the same across all sites. This is important because it shows that the intervention is exportable-and ready for dissemination."
However, Scahill also pointed out that children in both groups gained weight, indicating "a need to learn more about the metabolic consequences of medications like risperidone."
The study was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.