Stereotypies

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Renowned Psychologist treating children with primary motor stereotypies (PMS).

Stereotypies in otherwise normally developing kids (primary) are mostly cosmetic, not self-injurious, and while these movements may look odd, they are not terribly disruptive.

Though this movement disorder is relatively common, the cause is unknown. Stereotypies often involve flapping and waving of the arms, hand flapping, head nodding and/or rocking back and forth. Infants may show signs of stereotypies, which can typically include raising and waving or flapping hands/arms, wiggling fingers in front of the face, or opening and closing hands. They can last seconds to minutes and often occur when the child is excited, engrossed, stressed, fatigued, or bored.

Stereotypies are sometimes confused as compulsions or tics, but contrary to both, most children describe the stereotypies as pleasurable. They are often easily interruptible by calling the child’s name, but in some cases may be in self-injurious, socially offensive, or disruptive to desired activities.

Treatment

Habit Reversal Training (HRT)

Very little research has been conducted on treating primary motor stereotypies, and no medication has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment for stereotypies.

A behavioral treatment known as Habit Reversal Training (HRT), has proven to be the only effective treatment shown to reduce stereotypies. Dr. Specht has helped pioneer the use of HRT in children with PMS, which involves showing the child strategies for effectively refraining from stereotypic movements.

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