Stereotypic responding: a review of intervention research

Am J Ment Defic. 1984 May;88(6):595-609.


More than 60 studies using behavioral strategies to suppress stereotypic responding in handicapped individuals were reviewed in order to identify the populations studied, the behavior observed, the interventions employed, and the relative effectiveness of these interventions when used alone or in combinations. The target populations were distributed across nine categories, three of which (severely mentally retarded, profoundly mentally retarded, and severely emotionally disturbed) constituted approximately three-quarters of all subjects studied. Fifty types of target behavior were identified; body rocking was the target in approximately two-thirds of all studies, and mouthing and complex finger and hand movements were the targets in at least one-third. Ten interventions (seven aversive, three positive) were identified. The aversive interventions were used in approximately three-quarters of the studies whereas positive procedures were used in approximately one-third. One aversive procedure (overcorrection) was used in more than one-third of the studies, whereas another, shock, was the most effective. The other six aversive procedures, however, and three positive procedures were relatively equal in effectiveness. Discussion centered on the relative effectiveness of the interventions and their relationship to the concept of least restrictive alternatives.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / rehabilitation
  • Aversive Therapy / methods
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Child
  • Electroshock
  • Environment
  • Extinction, Psychological
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / rehabilitation
  • Male
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Punishment
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Restraint, Physical
  • Stereotyped Behavior*