Current Developmental Disorders Reports

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 195–201 | Cite as

Psychotropic Medication in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Patterns of Use and Recommendations for Monitoring Effects

  • Maria G. ValdovinosEmail author
Intellectual Disabilities (M Feldman and R Condillac, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Intellectual Disability


Purpose of Review

The purpose of this paper is to provide a brief review of the patterns of psychotropic medication use in individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and recommendations for monitoring the effects of these medications.

Recent Findings

Challenging behavior (e.g., aggression, self-injury, property destruction) in individuals with IDD is often observed, and both behavioral and pharmacological interventions have been evaluated for their effectiveness in treating these behaviors. Although behavioral interventions have been shown to be effective at decreasing challenging behavior, psychotropic medications are frequently used to treat challenging behavior despite a lack of clinical indication (i.e., psychiatric diagnosis).


Limited evidence exists supporting the effectiveness of psychotropic medication to address challenging behavior. Given the demonstrated effectiveness of behavioral interventions, a comprehensive approach to supporting those with IDD and challenging behavior should include behavioral assessment and intervention, and continuous monitoring of and data collection on challenging behavior.


Psychotropic medication Intellectual and developmental disabilities Challenging behavior 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Maria Valdovinos declares that she has no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentDrake UniversityDes MoinesUSA

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