Risperidone and Autism Ranking: Mildly Hazardous Very strong positive evidence

Aims and Claims


Risperidone, like other antipsychotic drugs, was developed to treat a wide variety of significant behavioural problems such as aggression, irritability and self-injury.

According to Jesner et al (2007), atypical antipsychotics like risperidone

‘… act by blocking dopamine receptors (D2) in the brain, and may also affect cholinergic, alpha-adrenergic, histaminergic and serotonergic receptors.”*


There have been various claims made for the use of risperidone as a treatment for people on the autism spectrum. For example

  • Boon-Yasidhi V. et al. (2002) claimed that risperidone “… produced clinically meaningful decreases in problem behaviors including hyperactivity, irritability, and aggressiveness”.
  • Capone et al (2008) claimed that risperidone produced “… improvement on important target behaviors such as aggression, disruptiveness, self-injury, stereotypy, and social withdrawal.”
  • Fayyazi et al (2014) claimed that risperidone was effective in “… reducing … hyperactivity disruptive/stereotypic, and conduct problems.”
  • McDougle et al (1997) claimed “Significant improvement was seen in measures of interfering repetitive behavior, aggression and impulsivity, and some elements of impaired social relatedness.”
  • Williams et al (2006) claimed that risperidone produced “significant increases in adaptive behavior in the areas of communication, daily living skills, and socialization.”

*Notes: acetylcholine, alpha-adrenergics, dopamine, histamine and serotonin are all neurotransmitters which play a key part in regulating how the body functions. They work by acting on special parts of cells within the brain and the central nervous system.

03 Aug 2018
Last Review
01 Jul 2018
Next Review
01 Jul 2021