Stereotyped movements in children are voluntary, repetitive and rhythmic movements that appear impulsive and do not pursue any goal. They are called stereotyped movements because they follow a fixed pattern, that is, the child always performs them in exactly the same way. The child who suffers from
Stereotyped movements in children are voluntary, repetitive and rhythmic movements that appear impulsive and do not pursue any goal. They are called stereotyped movements because they follow a fixed pattern, that is, the child always performs them in exactly the same way.
The child who suffers from Stereotyped Movement Disorder could manifest it by swinging, biting his fingers, scratching or making a continuous movement. We tell you all about this disorder in children.
When stereotyped movements begin in children
They usually begin before 3 years of age. Stereotyped movements must have a minimum duration of at least 4 weeks. Normally they tend to be accentuated or induced by sleep, stress, concentration, fatigue, sensory isolation, boredom or anxiety
If the child is distracted or initiates an activity he is likely to stop doing these stereotyped movements without great difficulties, so we can help the child by capturing their attention, with some activity that is to your liking, so that you stop doing this type of movement.
Children who manifest stereotyped movements experience, on many occasions, great discomfort because these movements interfere with their daily lives.
What kind of stereotypies are there in childhood?
There are two types of stereotypes:
- Primary steriotypes: They occur in children with normal psychomotor development. They affect a small percentage of the healthy child population.
- Secondary steriotypes: They occur in children with associated neurological disorders such as autism, mental retardation or sensorimotor deficits.
Are stereotyped movements in children common?
It is estimated that around 3% and 9% of children between 5 and 8 years old perform stereotyped movements to be stimulated at sensorimotor level or to relax by releasing tension. Sometimes, stereotyped movements take place when children are frustrated, bored or have a high level of tension. In this case we are talking about stereotyped movements or primary stereotypes because they are movements that take place in children who enjoy normal psychomotor development.
Stereotyped movements are common in children who have a Generalized Developmental Disorder (PDD) better known colloquially as Autism. Children who have a TGD spend a large part of the day doing stereotyped movements. It is estimated that between 40 and 45% of children with a PDD have stereotyped movements as a means to calm down or to show that they are excited. In this case, we would be talking about stereotyped movements or secondary stereotypes because they are movements that take place in children diagnosed with PDD.
What are the stereotyped movements in more common children?
Stereotyped movements in more common children are:
- Biting fingers, hands or any other part of the body.
- Bruxism during the day.
- Flutter of the arms (move the arms as if they were birds).
- Wash your hands.
- Make stocking.
- Unmotivated applause.
- Hit or throw objects.
- Scratching the skin.
- Throbbing your nose.
- Repetitive vocalizations without communicative value.
Is there treatment for stereotyped movements in children?
In most cases the treatment is not necessary. However, relatives of children who manifest stereotyped movements usually show high levels of concern. For what normally, the professional's main objective is to reassure family members and convey that this type of behavior is benign.
Stereotyped movements do not harm or deteriorate the development of the child, unless we are talking about stereotyped movements with self-harm, but if it is true that cause social rejection in the peer group.
In the case that stereotyped movements in children are self-injurious or that seriously interfere in different areas of their lives, it will be necessary to conduct a behavioral treatment to help them replace those movements with more adaptive ones and a coadjuvant pharmacological treatment.