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Risperidone’s Effectiveness on Autism Spectrum Disorder

By Angela Tao

Although there is no treatment for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), there are drugs that can alleviate the symptoms, one of which being risperidone. Risperidone specifically targets irritability related to ASD, which can manifest in behavior like aggression, self-injury, and tantrums. In a study aimed to review the effectiveness of risperidone in children and adolescents with ASD, a total of 101 participants were chosen [4]. The study compared risperidone to placebo. Placebo is a harmless pill with no effect and is given in experiments as a control to test drugs. In the results of the study, irritability decreased by more than 69% in the group given risperidone and 12% in the group given a placebo, accounting for a significant difference. The risperidone group in a separate, similar study was also found to be superior to the placebo group in terms of decreased irritability. Additionally, the risperidone group experienced lessened hyperactivity and increased nonverbal communication and social responsiveness [1]. In another study, individuals taking placebo relapsed 55% more often than individuals taking risperidone. Relapse contributes to a 25% increase in irritability [4]. Despite the side effects, such as weight gain and increased appetite, that came with using risperidone, the improved socialization and decreased irritability balanced those negative aspects [1].

In brief, risperidone was found to have an evident impact on irritability, which is notable because irritability is one of the main symptoms of ASD. There were also slight improvements in communication and socialization, but more research would have to be done in this area. Currently, only one other drug has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for children and adolescents with ASD. The introduction of risperidone as a treatment helps bring more options to the table for the 3.5 million people who have ASD [2].


  1. Canitano, R., & Scandurra, V. (2008, August). Risperidone in the treatment of behavioral disorders associated with autism in children and adolescents. Retrieved November 16, 2020, from

  2. Facts and Statistics. (2020, April 10). Retrieved November 16, 2020, from

  3. Maneeton, N., Maneeton, B., Putthisri, S., Woottiluk, P., Narkpongphun, A., & Srisurapanont, M. (2018, July 11). Risperidone for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review. Retrieved November 16, 2020, from

  4. McCracken JT;McGough J;Shah B;Cronin P;Hong D;Aman MG;Arnold LE;Lindsay R;Nash P;Hollway J;McDougle CJ;Posey D;Swiezy N;Kohn A;Scahill L;Martin A;Koenig K;Volkmar F;Carroll D;Lancor A;Tierney E;Ghuman J;Gonzalez NM;Grados M;Vitiello B;Ritz L;Davies M;Robi. (n.d.). Risperidone in children with autism and serious behavioral problems. Retrieved November 11, 2020, from

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