Wednesday, February 9, 2011

ASD and repetitive behaviours

Many children with ASD will have repetitive behaviours. They can range from simple rocking in their chair to dramatic flapping and jumping. For some children it can be more serious and lead to them harming themselves.

Over the years there have been lots of theories put up about why they need repetitive behaviour and how to manage it but even now some of them are not fully proven to be effective. The way you manage repetitive behaviour in your child depends on how severe it is, how much it interferes with life and the reason you believe it is happening. Often you are going to have to trust your instincts but remember that you know your child better than anyone else.

When does the repetitive behaviour occur?
Is there a particular time or place in which your child starts this behaviour? If so, try to identify what is going on around him that might be irritating the senses. Is it a normal reaction to being tired or stressed? Many so called ‘normal’ people find themselves rocking on the spot or doodling repetitively in that situation, too.

Is the behaviour severe?
Is your child hurting herself? Is she placing herself in danger with the behaviour? Is it making social contact difficult to manage? Sometimes the behaviour becomes something that the people around the child can become used to because it doesn’t really intrude. Most children can accept odd behaviour in other kids and will let your child work through whatever is bothering her.

Just remember that just because they have a repetitive behaviour it doesn’t have to stop. As a parent, it is up to you to decide when you need to intervene to protect your child’s safety and ability to fit into normal situations

Why is it happening?
You know your child well. What do you think is causing the behaviour? Is the child stressed or upset? Is it possible that they are using the action to calm themselves by blocking out an irritant?

Sometimes the behaviour is known to happen when your child discovers something new that he or she would like to explore. Is there something new around that you could start feeling and exploring together? Is there a toy that you can use to help your child become comfortable with the new experience?

If the behaviour has the potential to be damaging you will need to seek professional help. If not, try to work out what provokes it and develop a strategy to explore it.

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