The Pharmacological Treatment of People with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities: A Skeptical Appraisal

Psychotropic medications are the primary tools that psychiatrists and other physicians use in their attempts to improve the behavior, and hence the lives, of people with autism and other developmental disabilities. Two drugs, risperidone (Risperidal) and aripiprazole (Abilify), are FDA-approved for treating “irritability” in young people with autism, and several other drugs are frequently used in off-label applications designed to benefit people with autism and other developmental disabilities. Many people with developmental disabilities receive psychotropic drugs and there is a substantial research literature concerning these medications. Nonetheless, the widespread use of psychotropic medications is controversial. The purpose of this workshop is to provide a skeptical appraisal of the practice. Issues to be consider are the history of psychotropic drug use, current practices, research findings, and non-pharmacological alternatives and adjuncts to drug treatment. Special emphasis will be placed on the role that non-medical personnel can play in helping to ensure that behavior-change medications are used in a way that maximally benefits people with developmental disabilities.

After attending this event, participants should be able to:

1. Describe the psychotropic drugs commonly prescribed.

2. Explain the rationale for using those drugs

3. Summarize the essential findings of research evaluating those drugs.

4. Evaluate the quality of the researching examining drug effects.

5. Explain why it is hard to compare non-pharmacological and pharmacological interventions in a meaningful way.

6. Understand potential interactions between non-pharmacological and pharmacological interventions.

7. Contribute in a meaningful way to the appropriate use of psychotropic drugs.

July 29, 2019

9:00 am - 5:00 pm


UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago
7550 W 183rd Street
Tinley Park, IL 60477
Phone: 708.863.3803



7 BCBA or QIDP CEUs are available

Registration begins at 8:30 am  

There will be a one-hour break for lunch on your own

For more information contact Kenya at 708.222.4609

Refunds cannot be provided for cancellations with less than 24 hours notice


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Continuing Education Workshop

BCBA Credits

@ $150.00 ea.

QIDP Credits

@ $75.00 ea.

Friends/Family - No Credits

@ $50.00 ea.

Alan Poling, M.A., BCBA-D


Al Poling is a Professor of Psychology at Western Michigan University. He received his B.A. from Alderson-Broaddus College, his M.A. from West Virginia University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. A Fellow of the Association for Behavior Analysis International and Divisions 3, 25, and 28 of the American Psychological Association, Al has published 12 books and over 350 articles and book chapters and served as the research advisor of 38 Ph.D. recipients. With them and other colleagues Al has conducted research and done conceptual work in several areas, including behavioral pharmacology, clinical psychopharmacology (with special emphasis on the effects of psychotropic drugs in people with autism spectrum disorder), applied behavior analysis, gender issues, animal welfare, quantitative analysis, learning processes, research methods, and scent detection. Their work has been published in more than 50 different journals. Al was recognized as a Distinguished Faculty Scholar at Western Michigan University in 1996 and as a Distinguished Alumnus of West Virginia University in 1999. In 2003, he received the Western Michigan University College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Achievement in Research and Creative Activity Award. In 2016, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the California Association of Behavior Analysis, a Translational Research Award from the Association for Behavior Analysis International, and an International Humanitarian Award from the American Psychological Association. In 2019 he will receive the SEAB Don Hake Translational Research Award from the American Psychological Association.