Risk Alerts Motor Stereotypies
Dr. Fein describes how to distinguish the early physical movements of typically developing children from the motor stereotypies that characterize and are an early risk alert for children with ASD.
"Another thing to watch for is repetitive motor behaviors...if the child does it a lot, or there's an odd or self absorbed quality to it; that's another red flag."
— Deborah Fein PhD
Early Warning Signs related to Risk Alerts Motor Stereotypies
Dr. Smith comments on hand flapping in a child on the spectrum, and considers possible triggers and motivations for this behavior.
Many children on the spectrum exhibit a variety of stereotyped and repetitive behaviors, including flicking their fingers by their eyes or moving their hands quickly back and forth. These behaviors may start as hand flapping in the first year of life, but can evolve into more complex motor mannerisms as the child grows. Although brief, these behaviors are obvious, unusual to others, and a warning sign that the child may not be developing typically.
One early warning sign of autism is repetitive motor movements. Here we see Nathan spin his body around over and over while making repetitive, high pitched sounds. This unusual spinning behavior is clearly different than a simple spinning game. Rather, the purpose of Nathan's spinning is unclear and has a notable repetitive, stereotyped quality to it, consistent with an autism spectrum disorder.
Therapies related to Risk Alerts Motor Stereotypies
Repetitive motor behaviors, a possible warning sign for autism, are shown here quite clearly. While watching a children's television show, Christian K, who is 2 years 9 months old and on the autism spectrum, does various repetitive motor behaviors including walking back and forth, and walking in circles. During these behaviors, he also wriggles and looks at his fingers and vocalizes to himself, other indicators of the repetive, unusual quality of these mannerisms.
Repetitive motor behaviors can be a warning sign for autism. Wells liked moving his toy cars back and forth and looking at them at an angle to the exclusion of other more productive play activites. Wells' dad explains how Wells has shown vast improvements since therapy. Examples of Wells are shown at ages 2 years 8 months, and 3 years 5 months.
Georgia, a therapist, is shown working with Wells helping him to focus his energies on appropriate play and re directing his sensory seeking efforts, such as his interest in spinning the wheels on toy cars.
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