Aggression in autism spectrum disorder: Presentation and treatment options

Sarah E. Fitzpatrick, Laura Srivorakiat, Logan K. Wink, Ernest V. Pedapati, Craig A. Erickson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

39 Scopus citations


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by persistent difficulties in social communication and social interaction, coupled with restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior or interest. Research indicates that aggression rates may be higher in individuals with ASD compared to those with other developmental disabilities. Aggression is associated with negative outcomes for children with ASD and their caregivers, including decreased quality of life, increased stress levels, and reduced availability of educational and social support. Therapeutic strategies including functional behavioral assessment, reinforcement strategies, and functional communication training may have a significant impact in reducing the frequency and intensity of aggressive behavior in individuals with ASD. Pharmacologic treatments, particularly the use of second-generation antipsychotics, may also be of some benefit in reducing aggression in individuals with ASD. With the ever-increasing rate of ASD diagnosis, development of effective therapeutic and pharmacologic methods for preventing and treating aggression are essential to improving outcomes in this disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1525-1538
Number of pages14
JournalNeuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment
StatePublished - Jun 23 2016


  • Aggression
  • Antipsychotics
  • Applied behavior analysis
  • Autism
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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  • Cite this

    Fitzpatrick, S. E., Srivorakiat, L., Wink, L. K., Pedapati, E. V., & Erickson, C. A. (2016). Aggression in autism spectrum disorder: Presentation and treatment options. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 12, 1525-1538.