Repetitive Behavior in Children with Down Syndrome: Functional Analysis and Intervention

  • Nicole Neil
  • Emily A. Jones


Children with Down syndrome frequently display repetitive behavior including unusual routines, rituals, and stereotypy. Interventions for repetitive behavior in individuals with Down syndrome often include aversive procedures and are not informed by functional assessments despite effective function-based treatments for repetitive behavior with other populations. We used an analogue functional analysis to evaluate reinforcers maintaining repetitive behavior in three children with Down syndrome. Following identification of automatic functions, we used an ABAB design and a multiple-probe design to demonstrate the effectiveness of differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO) in reducing repetitive behavior. DRO was effective in decreasing repetitive behavior and, for one participant, repetitive behavior remained low at 1, 2, and 3-month follow-up sessions. This study extends current functional analysis methodologies to decrease repetitive behavior for learners with Down syndrome.


Down syndrome Functional analysis Repetitive behavior Differential reinforcement 



We would like to thank the families who participated in this research. Thank you also to Alysha Rafeeq and Mariya Kishkina for their assistance in data collection.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Informed Consent

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


Support for this project was provided by a Doctoral Student Research Grant and a Brain, Cognition, and Behavior Graduate Student Research Grant funded by The City University of New York.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Queens College and the Graduate CenterCity University of New YorkFlushingUSA

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