Effects of risperidone and parent training on adaptive functioning in Children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders and serious behavioral problems

Lawrence Scahill, Christopher J. McDougle, Michael G. Aman, Cynthia Johnson, Benjamin Handen, Karen Bearss, James Dziura, Eric Butter, Naomi G. Swiezy, L. Eugene Arnold, Kimberly A. Stigler, Denis D. Sukhodolsky, Luc Lecavalier, Stacie L. Pozdol, Roumen Nikolov, Jill A. Hollway, Patricia Korzekwa, Allison Gavaletz, Arlene E. Kohn, Kathleen KoenigStacie Grinnon, James A. Mulick, Sunkyung Yu, Benedetto Vitiello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Objective: Children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDDs) have social interaction deficits, delayed communication, and repetitive behaviors as well as impairments in adaptive functioning. Many children actually show a decline in adaptive skills compared with age mates over time. Method: This 24-week, three-site, controlled clinical trial randomized 124 children (4 through 13 years of age) with PDDs and serious behavioral problems to medication alone (MED; n = 49; risperidone 0.5 to 3.5 mg/day; if ineffective, switch to aripiprazole was permitted) or a combination of medication plus parent training (PT) (COMB; n = 75). Parents of children in COMB received an average of 11.4 PT sessions. Standard scores and Age-Equivalent scores on Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales were the outcome measures of primary interest. Results: Seventeen subjects did not have a post-randomization Vineland assessment. Thus, we used a mixed model with outcome conditioned on the baseline Vineland scores. Both groups showed improvement over the 24-week trial on all Vineland domains. Compared with MED, Vineland Socialization and Adaptive Composite Standard scores showed greater improvement in the COMB group (p =.01 and.05, and effect sizes = 0.35 and 0.22, respectively). On Age Equivalent scores, Socialization and Communication domains showed greater improvement in COMB versus MED (p =.03 and 0.05, and effect sizes = 0.33 and 0.14, respectively). Using logistic regression, children in the COMB group were twice as likely to make at least 6 months' gain (equal to the passage of time) in the Vineland Communication Age Equivalent score compared with MED (p =.02). After controlling for IQ, this difference was no longer significant. Conclusion: Reduction of serious maladaptive behavior promotes improvement in adaptive behavior. Medication plus PT shows modest additional benefit over medication alone. Clinical trial registration informationRUPP PI PDD: Drug and Behavioral Therapy for Children With Pervasive Developmental Disorders; http://www.clinicaltrials.gov; NCT00080145.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-146
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • adaptive behavior
  • children
  • parent training
  • pervasive developmental disorders
  • risperidone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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