Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 355-371

First online:

Use of a Direct Observational Measure in a Trial of Risperidone and Parent Training in Children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders

  • Benjamin L. HandenAffiliated withUniversity of Pittsburgh School of MedicineMerck Program, Western Psychiatry Institute and Clinic Email author 
  • , Cynthia R. JohnsonAffiliated withUniversity of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • , Eric M. ButterAffiliated withOhio State University
  • , Luc LecavalierAffiliated withOhio State University
  • , Lawrence ScahillAffiliated withEmory University School of Medicine
  • , Michael G. AmanAffiliated withOhio State University
  • , Christopher J. McDougleAffiliated withHarvard Medical School
  • , L. Eugene ArnoldAffiliated withOhio State University
  • , Naomi B. SwiezyAffiliated withIndiana University School of Medicine
    • , Denis G. SukhodolskyAffiliated withYale University
    • , James A. MulickAffiliated withOhio State University
    • , Susan W. WhiteAffiliated withVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
    • , Karen BearssAffiliated withEmory University School of Medicine
    • , Jill A. HollwayAffiliated withOhio State University
    • , Kimberly A. StiglerAffiliated withIndiana University School of Medicine
    • , James DziuraAffiliated withEmory University School of Medicine
    • , Sunkyung YuAffiliated withUniversity of Michigan Medical School
    • , Kelley SaccoAffiliated withChildren’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
    • , Benedetto VitielloAffiliated withNational Institute of Mental Health

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


A Structured Observational Analog Procedure (SOAP), an analogue measure of parent-child interactions, was used to assess treatment outcome in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and serious behavior problems. It served as a secondary outcome measure in a 24-week, randomized trial of risperidone (MED; N = 49) versus risperidone plus parent training (COMB; n = 75) (ages 4–13 years). At 24-weeks, there was 28 % reduction in child inappropriate behavior during a Demand Condition (p = .0002) and 12 % increase in compliance to parental requests (p = .004) for the two treatment conditions combined. Parents displayed 64 % greater use of positive reinforcement (p = .001) and fewer repeated requests for compliance (p < .0001). In the analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), COMB parents used significantly more positive reinforcement (p = .01) and fewer restrictive statements (p < .05) than MED parents. The SOAP is sensitive to change in child and parent behavior as a function of risperidone alone and in combination with PMT and can serve as a valuable complement to parent and clinician-based measures.


Autism spectrum disorder Autism Observational measures Behavioral interventions Parent training Clinical trials