Aripiprazole in the treatment of challenging behaviour in adults with autism spectrum disorder.Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2012 Oct; 223(3):357-60.P
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are associated with repetitive behaviours and often also with hyperactivity, aggression, self-injurious behaviour, irritability and lability of mood. There is emerging evidence that aripiprazole, an antipsychotic with partial agonist dopaminergic effect, may be effective in the treatment of these challenging behaviours. Nevertheless, there is little evidence for their efficacy in adults with ASD.
The aim of this article is to present preliminary data on the use of aripiprazole in the treatment of challenging behaviour in the setting of ASD.
We present a consecutive series of five inpatients of normal intelligence with challenging behaviour associated with ASD, diagnosed according to ICD-10 criteria, which was resistant to treatment with other medical and behavioural interventions and which was treated with aripiprazole.
Four out of five patients were classified as "much improved" or "very much improved" according to the Clinical Global Impression-Improvement scale. Aripiprazole caused akathisia, at a dose of 30 mg in the one patient who was not classified as a responder but was otherwise well tolerated.
This is the first case series of adults with ASD presenting with challenging behaviour who have been treated with aripiprazole. While the results are promising, controlled trials are required to confirm the findings.