Risperidone is a type of medication called an atypical antipsychotic. It is sold under a variety of brand names including Belivon, Rispen and Risperdal.
Risperidone is primarily used to treat some of the symptoms of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other mental health problems.
Risperidone is believed to work by changing the behaviour and characteristics of key neurotransmitters in the brain, in particular dopamine.
Risperidone is sometimes used to help children and adolescents who have been diagnosed with autistic disorder control behaviours such as aggression, self-injurious behaviours and sudden mood changes.
The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE, 2012 and 2013) suggests that antipsychotic medications such as risperidone can be used for managing challenging behaviour in autistic children, young people and adults. However it recommends that antipsychotics should only be used after psychosocial or other interventions have been shown to be insufficient or could not be delivered because of the severity of the behaviour. If antipsychotics are used, they should only be used under very strictly controlled conditions and under the supervision of a paediatrician or psychiatrist.
There is a considerable amount of high quality research evidence (more than 20 controlled and randomised controlled trials) and a considerable amount of low quality research (more than 20 single-case design studies with three or more participants) into the use of risperidone for autistic children and young people.
This research suggests that risperidone may be beneficial for the treatment of behaviours such as aggression, self-injurious behaviours and sudden mood changes in some autistic children and young people.
There is insufficient evidence to determine if risperidone provides any benefits in other areas (such as social communication and social interaction) to autistic children and adolescents. There is insufficient evidence to determine if risperidone provides any benefits to autistic adults.
There is a considerable amount of research evidence of significant side effects of risperidone in some autistic children and young people. Those side effects may include weight gain, drowsiness and raised serum prolactin levels.
There is a need for further, large-scale, randomised, double-blind trials on the effectiveness of risperidone.
These studies should
If you are considering using risperidone or any other type of antipsychotic medication, you should follow the guidance published by The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE, 2012 and 2013)
Please read our Disclaimer on Autism Interventions