This health video looks into ways to help and ease autistic aggression.
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Jennifer Matthews: Not long ago, this fun-loving family was consumed by fear. Emily Himmelfarb: It's been tough. It's been really tough. Jennifer Matthews: Michael has autism. He doesn't talk and until recently, his aggressive, and sometimes violent, behavior posed a threat to him, his sister and his parents. Andrew Himmelfarb: He would bite. He would scratch. He would run away. Emily Himmelfarb: It would be basically like hitting and pulling hair. Jennifer Matthews: That aggressive behavior isn't uncommon in children with autism, and successfully treating it hasn't been easy, but Doctor Elaine Tierney offered the Himmelfarb's a drug that seems to work. Dr. Elaine Tierney: We were treating children who had autism and who had either self-injury, aggression, or tantrums and a lot of irritability. Jennifer Matthews: In a recent study, children were given the anti-psychotic drug risperidone or a placebo. Nearly seventy percent were much or very much improved after eight weeks compared to just twelve percent in the placebo group. Dr. Elaine Tierney: It was highly significant. Jennifer Matthews: It worked for Michael. Andrew Himmelfarb: When he started the stuff, it was a big difference, tremendous difference. Jennifer Matthews: He's no longer biting or scratching and it's eased his aggression. Today, no words are needed to describe the love this family has for one another. Andrew Himmelfarb: I will not give up. I never will give up. How can I? He's my child. You just don't give up on your child. Jennifer Matthews: This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.