Tagged Function

Assessing the Function of Stereotypy in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

In a recent study, CARD researcher Arthur Wilke and colleagues found stereotypy to be maintained by automatic reinforcement in the majority of children with ASD. Among the core features of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) is the presence of repetitive and restricted behavior, also known as stereotypy. High rates of stereotypy can hinder social interaction and learning in children with ASD. As with any problem behavior, the function that is maintaining a stereotyped behavior must be identified before intervention can occur. Behaviors may be maintained by attention, escape, access to an object, or the behavior itself may be automatically reinforcing. For example, a child may repeatedly slap his hand against a flat surface because he likes the tingling feeling that results. While it is often assumed that the function of stereotypy in children with ASD is automatic, function should never be presumed based solely on the type of behavior. For this reason, CARD researchers investigated the function of stereotyped behavior in children with ASD.