Repetitive and Restrictive Behaviours
Repetitive and stereotyped behaviours among children with ASD
Children with ASD or ASD-like characteristics may exhibit a wide range of repetitive and stereotyped behaviours such as hand flapping, obsessional play with particular objects, head banging, the need to adhere to a strict routine and seeking sensory stimulation such as rocking, walking on their toes or sucking on toys and clothing.
These behaviours may act as coping strategies to lower anxiety when children are feeling frustrated, confused, excited, threatened or overwhelmed and may be comforting or pleasurable for them.
Why do we need to reduce the occurrence of repetitive and stereotyped behaviours?
Children with ASD often find imaginative play challenging and may become fixated on certain toys during play. This may lead to difficulties relating to and interacting with other children. It is therefore important to address these issues early, in order to promote optimal opportunities for children to develop social skills and build relationships with their peers.
Additionally, some repetitive behaviours can have negative consequences on a child’s health and well-being. For example, head banging may cause the child physical harm and cause the child’s parents and peers emotional distress if not managed. Fixations with objects or routines can interrupt participation in daily activities such as bathing, eating, playing and sleeping.