Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


12th Annual Autism Conference; Miami, FL; 2018

Event Details

Previous Page


Invited Paper Session #7
Using Behavior-Change Medications to Benefit People With Autism: An Overview
Monday, February 5, 2018
2:30 PM–3:20 PM
Regency Ballroom
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Instruction Level: Basic
CE Instructor: Alan D. Poling, Ph.D.
Chair: Ruth Anne Rehfeldt (Southern Illinois University)
ALAN D. POLING (Western Michigan University)
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 Divisions 3, 25, and 28 of the American Psychological Association and of the Association for Behavioral Analysis International, Al has published 12 books and over 350 articles and book chapters and served as the research advisor of 36 Ph.D. recipients. They, and he, have 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, 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.
Abstract: Two drugs, risperidone (Risperdal) and aripiprazole (Abilify), are FDA-approved for treating “irritability” in young people with autism and are often used for this purpose. Several other drugs also are commonly prescribed in the hope of improving behavior. This presentation will overview the use of behavior-change drugs in people with autism. Topics to be considered include the prevalence of drug use, the rationale for drug use, research findings, and what behavior analysts can do help in ensuring that medications are used wisely and effectively.
Target Audience:

Board certified behavior analysts, licensed psychologists, graduate students.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) specify why psychotropic drugs are often prescribed for people with autism; (2) state the prevalence of psychotropic drug use in people with autism, the kinds of drugs commonly administered, and the kinds of behaviors that those drugs typically are intended to change; (3) describe and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the research literature concerned with the pharmacological treatment of people with autism; (4) summarize the conclusions supported by the research literature concerned with the pharmacological treatment of people with autism; (5) specify and describe two ways in which behavior analysts can contribute to ensuring that psychotropic drugs are used appropriately.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh