Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

William Drew Gouvier


People with mental retardation exhibit a large number of behavioral excesses and deficits and the full range of psychopathology. As a result, interventions involving psychotropic medications are widely used in the population. However, few conducted studies have examined the effect of psychotropic interventions on the total behavioral repertoire. Most studies examine only the suppression of symptoms or maladaptive behaviors without considering the manner in which medications may alter the positive behavioral repertoire or cause deleterious side effects. This study aimed to address medication effects on the positive behavioral spectrum by examining the effects of these interventions on social skills, adaptive skills, and side-effects profiles. Subjects were placed in 1 of 5 groups that corresponded to their current medication regimes. Individuals who received traditional antipsychotics, atypical antipsychotics, and multiple medications had significantly less social and adaptive skills and higher side-effects scores than individuals receiving anti-epileptic medications and experimental controls. The same groups (traditional antipsychotics; atypical antipsychotics; multiple medications) demonstrated a significant decline in social and adaptive skills among participants receiving the particular medication regime a minimum of three years. Finally, analyses of demographic variables did not delineate significant differences between groups in terms of actual demographic variables or in social and adaptive skills. Clinical implications of this research are discussed with an eye for providing enhanced care for persons with developmental disabilities.