How To Redirect Flappy Hands On A 3 Yrs Old Decrease Repetitive Behaviors in Children With Autism

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Decrease Repetitive Behaviors in Children With Autism

Children with autism are prone to repetitive movements. This is due to the need to remove extra energy and can be distracting and disruptive. With a few simple changes, these behaviors can be decreased.

In children with autism, the expelled energy takes the form of hand flapping, walking in circles, head banging, or jumping up and down. Also any fixation on a certain task, such as rolling a piece of rope between two fingers or “flies” a hand in front of his face.

Repetitive movements are not unusual. When people are nervous or excited, they tend to drum their fingers or tap their feet to let out that extra built-up energy. This is normal and happens every day. Movements can be subconscious like twirling hair around a finger or biting a lip.

While repetitive movements, with the exception of head banging, are not a safety issue for the child or others, they hinder the child’s ability to learn or participate in other activities. The more the child is focused on repeating the same task, the less attention or brain power they have available for anything else.

So how do you get a child to calm down, sit, and pay attention without distractions?

Although a child with autism will never be completely free of repetitive behaviors, here are a few tips and tricks to help reduce them.

1.) Provide a movement outlet like swinging, jumping on a trampoline, or running laps around a track.

2.) Use chew tubes. These allow the child to sit still, but expel excess energy to bite.

3.) Create a reward system for not doing the unwanted behavior. For example, if the child does not hit the wall for five minutes, they get a treat. Then extend the time to ten minutes and so on until the unwanted behavior is gone.

4.) Replace bad behavior with good behavior. For example, instead of rolling the paper between the fingers, redirect the child to build with blocks.

This does not prevent the behaviors, but to take the child in another activity, they become more alert and socially functioning.

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