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Stereotypy and Self-Injury 

Stereotypy and Self-Injury

Chapter:
Stereotypy and Self-Injury
Author(s):

Lindsey Sterling

, Annie McLaughlin

, and Bryan H. King

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780195371826.003.0024
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date: 23 June 2017

Stereotypy is a core feature of autistic disorder and refers to behavior(s) that are typically repetitive and nonfunctional or non-goal directed. For instance, a child might cock her head and look out of the corner of her eyes at her hand while she waves it side to side in front of a ceiling light. Another may turn a toy car upside down and incessantly spin its wheels rather than play with it as intended. Some stereotyped behaviors are associated with tissue damage; for example, repetitive licking can cause dry, cracked skin. Other behaviors appear to be quite specifically designed to cause injury—like head banging and face slapping and have been described in case reports dating back over a century. This chapter reviews the biology and treatment of stereotypy with a focus on stereotyped self-injury as an extreme manifestation of this behavior.

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