Knowledge Library

Towards the Prevention of Behavioural and Psychiatric Disorders in People with Intellectual Disabilities

Intervention for behavioural and psychiatric disorders in people with intellectual disabilities often only takes place once these conditions are well established and more resistant to change. As an alternative, this paper promotes a public health prevention model and maps out opportunities for intervention at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. The resulting model is partly derived from generic research into these issues and partly on specific evidence on interventions for people with intellectual disabilities; it also contains more theoretical considerations. The additional research that is necessary to demonstrate the efficacy of the interventions identified is also considered. Central to this proposal is a greater integration of issues for people with intellectual disabilities within much broader policy and research agendas.

Psychopharmacological treatment of challenging behaviours in adults with autism and intellectual disabilities: A systematic review


Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder with a high co-occurrence with intellectual disability. Adults with Autism and intellectual disability have a high incidence of challenging behaviour, defined as repetitive self injurious or aggressive behaviour. We underwent a systemic review of the evidence for treating challenging behaviours in adults with Autism and intellectual disability.


A literature search was conducted using three large databases to extract studies on the treatment of challenging behaviour among adults with Autism and intellectual disability. Papers, which met this criterion, were reviewed and analysed to assess study evidence and quality.


Seven articles were selected which included five agents: fluvoxamine, sertraline, clomipramine, risperidone, and ziprasidone. Randomized control studies of fluvoxamine and risperidone, provided efficacy for the treatment of challenging behaviour in adults with Autism and intellectual disability. Open label trials of sertraline, clomipramine and ziprasidone were also effective in treating challenging behaviours for this population.


Risperidone and fluvoxamine provided the best evidence for treating challenging behaviour, and risperidone was the only medication with multiple trials showing its efficacy. Further studies are required to demonstrate the efficacy of psychopharmacology in treating challenging behaviours among adults with Autism and intellectual disability.

Social Intervention for Adolescents With Autism and Significant Intellectual Disability: Initial Efficacy of Reciprocal Imitation Training

Individuals with autism have difficulty with social skills across the lifespan. Few social interventions have been examined for older individuals with autism who also have significant intellectual disabilities (ID). Previous research suggests that reciprocal imitation training (RIT) improves imitation and social engagement in young children with autism. This study used a multiple-baseline design to examine whether RIT could improve social behaviors in four adolescents with autism and significant ID. All adolescents improved their spontaneous imitation and two improved their joint engagement. In addition, two adolescents decreased their rate of self-stimulatory behaviors over the course of treatment. Overall, these results suggest that RIT may be effective at improving social interaction and decreasing self-stimulatory behavior in adolescents with autism and significant ID.


A multiple baseline across settings was used to evaluate the effects of differential reinforcement of
alternative behavior, nonremoval of the fork (Hoch, Babbitt, Coe, Krell, & Hackbert, 1994),
and stimulus fading on consumption of food rejected previously. The study was conducted in
two separate settings, and caregivers were trained in the intervention technique to increase
generalization to natural settings. Food variety increased in both settings.