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J Pediatr Health Care. 2012 Jul-Aug;26(4):291-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pedhc.2011.02.008. Epub 2011 Mar 17.

Efficacy of risperidone in managing maladaptive behaviors for children with autistic spectrum disorder: a meta-analysis.

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  • 1Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.



Atypical antipsychotic agents are widely used psychopharmacological interventions for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Among the atypical antipsychotic agents, risperidone has demonstrated considerable benefits in reducing several behavioral symptoms associated with ASDs. This meta-analysis examined research regarding the effectiveness of risperidone use among children with ASD using articles published since the year 2000.


The database for the analyses comprised 22 studies including 16 open-label and six placebo-controlled studies. Based on the quality, sample size, and study design of studies prior to 2000, the database was then restricted to articles published after the year 2000. Effect sizes were calculated for each reported measure within a study to calculate an average effect size per study.


The mean effect size for the database was 1.047 and the sample weighted mean effect size was 1.108, with a variance of 0.18.


Outcome measures demonstrated mean improvement in problematic behaviors equaling one standard deviation, and thus current evidence supports the effectiveness of risperidone in managing behavioral problems and symptoms for children with ASD. Although Risperdal has several adverse effects, most are manageable or extremely rare. An exception is rapid weight gain, which is common and can create significant health problems. Overall, for most children with autism and irritable and aggressive behavior, risperidone is an effective psychopharmacological treatment.

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