Varieties of Repetitive Behavior in Autism: Comparisons to Mental Retardation

  • James W. Bodfish
  • Frank J. Symons
  • Dawn E. Parker
  • Mark H. Lewis


Systematic study of abnormal repetitive behaviors in autism has been lacking despite the diagnostic significance of such behavior. The occurrence of specific topographies of repetitive behaviors as well as their severity was assessed in individuals with mental retardation with and without autism. The occurrence of each behavior category, except dyskinesias, was higher in the autism group and autistic subjects exhibited a significantly greater number of topographies of stereotypy and compulsions. Both groups had significant patterns of repetitive behavior co-occurrence. Autistic subjects had significantly greater severity ratings for compulsions, stereotypy, and self-injury. Repetitive behavior severity also predicted severity of autism. Although abnormal repetition is not specific to autism, an elevated pattern of occurrence and severity appears to characterize the disorder.

Autism mental retardation repetitive behavior 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • James W. Bodfish
    • 1
  • Frank J. Symons
    • 2
  • Dawn E. Parker
    • 1
  • Mark H. Lewis
    • 3
  1. 1.Human Development Research and Training InstituteWestern Carolina CenterMorganton
  2. 2.Frank Porter Graham Child Development CenterUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillNorth Carolina 27599
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of FloridaGainesville

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