The FDA approved the use of risperidone or Risperdal orally disintegrating tablets for ‘the symptomatic treatment of irritability in autistic children and adolescents’ with autism.
As the first FDA approved drug treatment for behaviors associated with autism treatment, this is likely exciting news for parents. But since Risperdal has already been used off-label for many years to treat autism in children, ADHD, and children who are bipolar, it is not exactly a breakthrough.
Still, it is reassuring to know that using Risperdal has been found to be safe and effective by the FDA to treat irritability and behavior problems associated with children with autism, including:
- deliberate self-injury
- temper tantrums
- quickly changing moods
Many parents are surprised when their child is prescribed Risperdal, because it is an atypical antipsychotic medication that was originally approved to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia in adults and manic episodes associated with Bipolar. These atypical antipsychotics, including Risperdal, Abilify, Geodon, Clozaril, Zyprexa, and Seroquel, have been shown to improve many behavioral symptoms, including aggressiveness, oppositionality, and hyperactivity, in children with psychiatric problems other than schizophrenia.
Risperdal Side Effects
The most common side effects of taking Risperdal include drowsiness, constipation, fatigue and weight gain. The drowsiness is sometimes a ‘good’ side effect, as many kids who take Risperdal do not sleep well, which adds to their behavior problems during the day.
Ask your doctor about other less common, although more serious side effects, including neuroleptic malignant syndrome, tardive dyskinesia, and hyperglycemia and diabetes.
Excessive weight gain can also be a problem for children taking Risperdal and other atypical antipsychotic medications.