Changes in self-stimulatory behaviors with treatment

J Abnorm Child Psychol. 1985 Jun;13(2):281-93. doi: 10.1007/BF00910648.


For four of six autistic children who underwent intensive behavioral treatment, the nature of their self-stimulatory behavior changed from initial "low-level" motor behaviors (such as rocking, spinning, twirling) to differing kinds of "higher-level" behaviors (such as lining of objects, echolalic speech, and preoccupation with spelling and numerical values). The children who changed to the highest levels of self-stimulatory behavior also showed the largest gains in treatment (as determined by IQ scores, school placement, etc.). The changes in self-stimulatory behaviors were attributed to the intense teaching of appropriate social behaviors and the explicit therapeutic suppression of low-level, self-stimulatory behaviors. The long-term therapeutic effects of changing from lower- to higher-level forms of self-stimulatory behavior were discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology
  • Autistic Disorder / therapy*
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity
  • Stereotyped Behavior*
  • Verbal Behavior