Behavior and Anxiety in Angelman Syndrome – 2021

Quick Overview

The panel discussion on ‘Behaviour and Anxiety in Angelman Syndrome’ covered various aspects of the condition. The panelists discussed common behavioural challenges, the importance of understanding behaviour, the comorbidity of autism, medication-based treatments, sleep problems, and the need for individualised approaches. They also answered audience questions. Key points included the side effects of anxiety medications, the potential of CBD oil for emotional regulation, the effectiveness of Epidiolex for anxiety, the benefits of visual schedules and reward systems, and the role of diet and natural supplements. The panelists emphasised the importance of regular evaluation of medications and the supportive nature of the Angelman community. They also mentioned the Angelman Syndrome Foundation’s work on treatment guidelines for anxiety and behaviour.


Dr. Liz Jalazo introduced the panelists and explained that they would be giving a presentation followed by a Q&A session. The panelists discussed the importance of raising funds for the Angelman Syndrome Foundation.

Common Behavior Challenges in Angelman Syndrome

The panelists discussed the common behavior challenges observed in individuals with Angelman Syndrome. They talked about the relationship between anxiety and behavior problems in Angelman Syndrome. They mentioned that behavior problems can vary based on molecular subtypes of Angelman Syndrome. They also discussed the changes in behavior problems over the lifespan of individuals with Angelman Syndrome.

Understanding Behavior

The panelists highlighted the importance of understanding the different functions of behavior. They discussed the use of environmental and behavior strategies to address behavior concerns in Angelman Syndrome. They emphasized the importance of communication and the use of AAC devices to help individuals with Angelman Syndrome express their needs. They also talked about the role of sensory interventions in managing behavior challenges.

Autism and Angelman Syndrome

The panelists talked about the comorbidity of autism in Angelman Syndrome and the differences between the two conditions.

Medication-Based Treatments

They discussed the use of medication-based treatments for behavior and emotional concerns in Angelman Syndrome. They mentioned the need to rule out medical causes of behavior problems before considering medication. They discussed different medications that can be used to address anxiety and hyperactivity in Angelman Syndrome. They emphasized the importance of close communication with healthcare providers when using medication-based treatments.

Sleep Problems

They discussed the use of behavioral interventions for sleep problems in Angelman Syndrome. They mentioned the use of melatonin, clonidine, and trazodone for sleep in Angelman Syndrome. They also discussed the potential use of other medications, such as mirtazapine and quetiapine, for sleep in Angelman Syndrome. The panelists highlighted the importance of routine exercise and sleep hygiene in managing behavior and sleep problems in Angelman Syndrome.

Individualized Approaches and Challenges

They discussed the challenges of implementing behavioral interventions and the need for individualized approaches.

Q&A Session

The panelists answered questions from the audience about specific behavior and anxiety concerns in Angelman Syndrome.

Key Points

  • Side effects of anxiety medications can include irritability, increased emotionality, and sadness.
  • Medications that control seizures can also help with irritability, aggressive behaviors, and anxiety.
  • Some anti-seizure medications can make seizures worse in Angelman syndrome.
  • Clobazam can be used as an anti-anxiety medication in addition to its anti-seizure properties.
  • Lithium and clonidine can be used for behavior management, with clonidine being more commonly used.
  • CBD oil has the potential to help with emotional regulation and irritability, but more research is needed.
  • Epidiolex can be more effective than other seizure medications for anxiety in Angelman syndrome.
  • The timing of medications for sleep should be carefully considered and adjusted based on individual response.
  • Visual schedules and reward systems can be helpful for managing behaviors.
  • Challenging behaviors are those that interfere with an individual’s quality of life or social interactions.
  • Older individuals with Angelman syndrome may experience a reduction in behaviors and anxiety with age.
  • Functional behavior analysis can help determine the cause of challenging behaviors.
  • ABA therapy can be helpful for individuals with Angelman syndrome, but access to services can be challenging.
  • Diet and natural supplements may have some benefits in reducing anxiety, but more research is needed.
  • Medications like Risperdal and Abilify can be used long-term for behavior management, but side effects should be monitored.
  • Medications like clonazepam can be helpful for anxiety and seizures, but can also cause fatigue.
  • Movement disorders can be a side effect of antipsychotic medications, but can be reversible.
  • Medications like trazodone can be used for nighttime wake-ups, but multiple medications for the same issue should be avoided.
  • Chamomile and magnesium supplements may have calming effects, but individual responses may vary.
  • Medications like Benadryl can be helpful for sleep, but side effects like grogginess and constipation should be monitored.
  • Medications should be regularly evaluated to determine if they are still necessary.
  • The Angelman Syndrome Foundation is working on treatment guidelines for anxiety and behavior.
  • Accessing specialized clinics and consulting with specialists can be helpful in managing behaviors.
  • The Angelman community is supportive and cohesive, and families play a crucial role in educating experts.
  • The spark and charisma of individuals with Angelman syndrome is inspiring.
  • The dedication and support of the Angelman community is greatly appreciated by experts.
  • The largest attended session at the conference was on anxiety and behavior, highlighting the importance of the topic.
  • The experts express gratitude for the opportunity to work with the Angelman community.

Talk details

  • Title: Behavior and Anxiety in Angelman Syndrome – 2021
  • Author(s): Christopher Keary, Anne Wheeler, Anjali Sadhwani, Cesar Ochoa-Lubinoff
  • Author(s)’ affiliation: Massachusetts General Hospital; RTI International; Boston Children’s Hospital; Rush University Medical Center
  • Publication date: 2021-08-11
  • Collection: 2021 ASF Virtual Family Conference