Children with autism often have behaviour problems such as tantrums, aggression and self-injury as well. An antipsychotic drug called risperidone is sometimes used to reduce this behaviour but the problems return once the medication is stopped and the drug can cause children to put on weight leading to health problems and obesity. Researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health in the U.S. have been studying the effectiveness of adding a training programme to help parents manage their children's disruptive behaviour on top of the drug therapy (combination therapy). They split 124 children aged between 4 and 13 into two groups. Over the 24 weeks of the study one group received just risperidone while the other group received risperidone and, for their parents, the training programme. Both groups improved but the combination therapy group improved more showing less irritability, tantrums and impulsiveness. They also took less risperidone although they still put on as much weight as the drugs-only group.
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