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Changes in Self-Stimulatory Behaviors with Treatment

Authors: Epstein LJ, Taubman MT, Lovaas OI
Source: J Abnorm Child Psychol. 1985 Jun;13(2):281-93

Abstract: 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.