Risperdal – The Drug of Choice for Aggression in Spectrum Children?

My son, who will be six years old tomorrow, has started having very aggressive meltdowns.  These are different than previous meltdowns as there is an obvious level of rage involved.  I’ve previously posted about two of his recent tantrums (Tantrums Take Two and Tantrums – Again?).  Thoseseemed to be a trigger for even more.  If he has an expectation in his mind that is not met he freaks out.  One morning he woke up early and climbed the pantry to get to a new box of cereal; he was sneaking food.  He does this all the time yet he’s still more than 10% underweight.  The rule in our house is that if you sneak a food item you do not get any of that food item again that day.  So he was not able to take some of the dry cereal to school.  My sweet little boy instantly changed; it was like he was suddenly filled with rage and he just had a meltdown.  He was yelling, screaming, hitting himself, stopping his feet, and slamming his door against the wall.  He had two hands on the door and was slamming it into the wall just as hard as he could.  Then in an instant it was over and he was my sweet little boy again.  Woah turnaround.

We managed to get in to see his psychiatrist on a cancelled appointment (to avoid a month-long wait) and she has suggested that we start Risperdal.  She wants to start the dose very low, 1/2 of a .25mg table.  She said that it is very good for aggression and rage in spectrum children.  Being the avid researcher that I am, I started reading up about it and sure enough on all of my autism/Asperger’s groups and message boards there are many parents whose children are either currently taking Risperdal or who have previously taken it.  I waited until I’d done enough research to be comfortable and then started him on it Saturday night.  I wanted to make sure I was around on the day following his first dose to ensure that he didn’t have any odd or noticeable side-effects.  Thankfully all has gone well. 

In my research I found that one of the most common side-effects is increased appetite and as a result weight gain.  If this is something that can be kept in check this could be very beneficial for Alexander.  Even if he gained 1/3 of his current body weight he’d still be within the range of normal.  He’s only taken it for three nights but thankfully we haven’t had a full-on rage-y tantrum.  Fingers crossed this works!

About Melissa

Melissa is an Arizona native that loves traveling with her family. Follow Melissa on Twitter and don't forget to Subscribe to Mutterings of a Mindless Mommy. You can also find Melissa at The Autism Education Site.


  1. Wanted to let you know that I’m thinking of you guys. How is he doing on the new med?

  2. So, like, blog more!

    *stamps foot impatiently*

  3. My son also has meltdowns and is very aggressive. He was on Risperdal but then he gained a ton of weight and started getting muscle ticks and drooling. Now he is on Abilify, and I have not noticed side effects.
    My son was diagnosed with sensory processing problems. He is in sensory integration therapy, which helps. He also is in weekly counseling. I took some parenting classes too. I learned that my son does better with structure and routine, so I had to really adapt what I did at home. Another big thing is consistency, especially with discipline. My son does best when he gets choices, so that also helps avoid some of the meltdowns. Plus i made him an incentive chart, and we work on that every day. So there is hope! You are doing a great job as a mom, and I support you 100%.

  4. Feebee – I’ve started blogging again, yay! hehe

    Marie – Thank you for the post, I hope your son is doing well on Abilify. Risperdal has really made a huge difference in Alexander’s quality of life. He has friends…he plays with kids at recess…his anxiety has reduced a bit…and he’s able to focus better. As nervous as I was to start it, I’m happy that we did.

  5. This is exactly why we just started…


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