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Parent training key to improved treatment of behavior problems in children with autism
Date:11/25/2009

The serious behavior problems that can occur in children with autism and related conditions can be reduced with a treatment plan that includes medication combined with a structured training program for parents, according to Yale University researchers and their colleagues.

Published in the December 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the study was conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Research Units on Pediatric Psychopharmacology (RUPP) Autism Network. The 24-week, three-site trial was conducted at Yale, Ohio State University and Indiana University. Lawrence Scahill, professor at Yale School of Nursing and the Yale Child Study Center, is principal investigator at the Yale site.

Results from a 2002 RUPP report showed that the antipsychotic medication risperidone (Risperdal) reduced such behavioral problems as tantrums, aggression and self-injury in children with autism. However, most children's symptoms returned when the medication was discontinued after six months of effective treatment. Also, risperidone is associated with adverse effects such as weight gain, which can lead to obesity and related health problems.

In this new study, the RUPP group tested the benefits of medication alone compared to medication plus a parent training program that actively involves parents in managing their children's severely disruptive and noncompliant behaviors. In a series of 14 sessions over six months, parents were taught to reduce their children's challenging behavior and to enhance daily living skills.

The study included 124 children ages 4 to 13 with pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) such as autism, Asperger's or related disorders accompanied by tantrums, aggression and self-injury. The children were randomly given a combination of risperidone and parent training, or risperidone only.

Although both groups improved over the six-month trial
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Contact: Karen N. Peart
karen.peart@yale.edu
203-432-1326
Yale University
Source:Eurekalert

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