Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders

2013 Edition
| Editors: Fred R. Volkmar

Repetitive Behavior

  • Johannes RojahnEmail author
  • Lisa J. Meier
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1698-3_1648


The term “repetitive behaviors” refers to abnormal behaviors that are characterized by repetition, rigidity, inappropriateness, and lack of adaptability (Bodfish, 2007). They include motor stereotyped behaviors, self-stimulatory behaviors, self-injurious behaviors, compulsive or sameness behaviors, and verbal repetitive behaviors such as echolalia (Bodfish, Symons, Parker, & Lewis, 2000). Repetitive behaviors may become problematic when they occupy a significant portion of the individual’s waking hours, interfere with participation in other life activities, interfere with appropriate social interactions, disrupt the learning of more appropriate behaviors, or in the case of self-injurious behavior cause significant bodily damage. The specific function of repetitive behaviors in autism is unknown, but hypothesized functions include stress reduction, reward/gratification, and sensory stimulation (Mason, 1991). Individuals with autism who engage in repetitive and restricted...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyGeorge Mason UniversityFalls ChurchUSA