Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Repetitive Behavior

Repetitive behavior, Stimming.

Although people with Autism will normally appear physically normal and have good muscle control, they will sometimes display unusual repetitive movements.

Which is known as, stereotypic movement disorder, stereotypies or repetitive behaviors, self stimulation, or stimming.

Repetitive behaviors, stimming, obsessions, stereotype and routines are all features of the autistic spectrum disorder. The level of an Autistic persons development and functioning will influence their specific behavior, if any.

The repetitive behavior, stimming, stereotypy or self-stimulatory behavior is common in many individuals with developmental disabilities; but appears to be more common in autism.

Sometimes an Autistic person will have a preoccupation with a certain part of an object (such as the bell on a bike), repetitive use of a particular object, such as flicking a rubber band or twirling a piece of string, or a repetitive activity involving the senses such as smelling, or feeling of particular textures, such as a blanket, or rubbing silk, also listening to different noises.

Repetitive behaviors can also extend into the spoken word as well. Echolalia is the repetition of a single word or phrase.

Stereotypy, repetitive, stimming or obsessive behavior, can involve any one or all senses,
For example:

Sight: Staring into lights, repetitive blinking, flicking their fingers in front of their eyes and hand-flapping.

sound: tapping of the ears, snapping of the fingers.

feel: Rubbing their skin with their hands or with an object, or scratching, bitting.

Taste: Placing body parts or objects into their mouth, or

licking objects and things

Smell: Smelling of objects, or sniffing people.

With Autism sometimes an overload of sensory input is too confusing for them to handle, so they'll actually flap (stim), in order to concentrate on the flapping and calm themselves down.

Autistic people find it hard to multi task, so when they're looking at something it's almost as if they're deaf and can't hear because they will suppress or turn off their auditory system (hearing).

In fact, if a person with another developmental disability presents a form of self-stimulatory behavior, the person is quite often labeled as having autistic characteristics

Autistic children may also display self-stimming behaviors. Such as hand flapping and toe walking. Or in some cases self-harming behavior such as biting or head-banging.

Repetitive behaviors are more often observed in children or people at the lower functioning end of the autistic spectrum.

However, some adolescents and adults can revert back to old repetitive behaviors when they are anxious or stressed.

To an Autistic person our normal everyday lives are confusing, our interaction with other people, places, sounds, smells and sights.

To an autistic person we appear to have no clear boundaries, order or meaning to anything. We don't follow the same repetitive patterns in all we do.

Research has shown that stereotypic behaviors interfere with attention and learning in autistic children. But interestingly enough, these stereotypic behaviors are quite often used as a reward of good behavior after completing a task. For example an autistic child may be allowed to twirl string once he has completed his school work.

Research has suggested various reasons why an autistic person may engage in stereotypic behaviors. One theory suggests that these behaviors give the person sensory stimulation (i.e., the person's sense is hyposensitive).

Due to some dysfunctional system in the brain or periphery, their body will want stimulation; therefore the autistic person will engage in the stereotypic behavior to excite or arouse the nervous system.

One theory is that these behaviors release beta-endorphins in their bodies (opiate-like substances) which provides the autistic person internal pleasure.

Repetitive behaviors can be easily confused with the tics that arise in Tourette's syndrome, which is itself a comorbid disorder.

The tics associated with Tourette syndrome usually begin at around age six or seven years. while repetitive movements typically start before two years of age in children on the autistic spectrum and are more likely to be triggered by excitement or stress.

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