Continuing Education Workshop
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 (Risperidol) and aripiprazole (Ability), 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.