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Welcome to a forum dedicated to applied behavior analysis. The purpose of this blog is to provide a forum for students, parents and professionals to access information and discuss timely concerns regarding the science of applied behavior analysis in a reader-friendly manner.

I have fallen off the blog recently, mostly due to the completion of my dissertation and spending time with my daughter. As I delve back into the home-based and consultation world, topics to discuss and share with those interested in applied behavior analysis appears endless. I hope to take this blog in a direction of bridging the gap across the various orientations towards working with and teaching children with autism and related disorders...I'm a behavior analyst through and through, but we can do better in various domains that we have been hesitant to discuss in the past. My interests are veering into the realm of self-regulation, problem-solving, relationship development in addition to working with children with substantial interfering behavior. Comments and discussion is both welcome and desired.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Stereotypy in Children with and without Autism

A research review by Michelle Rodgers (CUNY Queens College)

Authors: MacDonald, R., Green, G., Mansfield, R., Geckeler, A., Gardenier, N., Anderson, J., Holcomb, W., & Sanchez, J.

Title: Stereotypy in young children with autism and typically developing children

Purpose of this study: The purpose of this study was to compare motor and vocal stereotypy in 2-,3-, and 4-year old children with autism and typically developing children within the same age group.

Participants: A total of 60 children participated. 30 were diagnosed with autism or PDD-NOS and 30 were considered typical. Each group was broken up into three subgroups, 2-, 3-, and 4-year olds, each with ten children.

Settings: The setting was a small testing room at the New England Center for Children. The testing room had books and toys as well as a table and chairs.

Target behaviors: The behaviors that were measured were vocal and motor stereotypy across the two groups of children and across the 3 age groups. Some examples of vocal stereotypy were: non-contextual giggling, vocalizing non-recognizable words and echolalia. Examples of motor stereotypy were rocking, hand flapping, tapping objects, more than 2 times in a row, spinning, and finger flicking.

Procedure: Children were administered portions of the NECC Early Core Skills Assessment battery. These components covered motor and vocal imitation, matching, receptive and expressive communication, as well as instruction-following skills. Only a ten minute sample of the assessment was used, even though each student was given the entire battery. During the play portion, children were told to play with the toys but were allowed to move around the whole testing room. They were not prompted after the first directions were given. During the structured component, the children were administered tests for motor imitation, vocal imitation, and social questions. If the children engaged in stereotypy, it was not redirected.

Results: The results indicated that as the age increased for children with PDD-NOS, the mean percent duration of total stereotypy (vocal and motor) increased from 12% at 2-years old, 23% at 3 years old, and 39% at 4 years old. For typically developing children, the mean percent duration of total stereotypy decreased from 5% at 2 years old, to 3% at 3 years old and 2% at 4 years old. The children with PDD-NOS started with a higher mean percent duration than the typically developing students. The 4 year-olds with PDD-NOS displayed even higher rates of stereotypy than the 2 year-olds.

Implications: The study has several implications.

First, the optimal age for early intervention would be 2 years-old or earlier. Stereotypy is still relatively low at 2, that there may be more opportunities to teach appropriate behavior without having to compete with stereotypy.

Also, the fact that the four-year olds had higher rates of stereotypy implies that more should be done to limit the practice of stereotypy so that there is not much of a reinforcement history attached to these behaviors.

The types of stereotypy observed in the typical children and the children with PDD-NOS were also of interest. Children with autism tended to emit repetitive noises or non-contextual phrases, while rarely making eye contact. Typically developing children emitted contextually appropriate and identifiable words as well as made eye contact.


ariane said...

Hi Angela,

I like your blog! I'm also a student at CUNY Grad Center and am currently putting together my dissertation proposal on Asperger's Syndrome...

I look forward to hearing more about your research!

Angela Mouzakitis, BCBA said... me personally...we'll chat.

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Aimee said...

Hi Angela,
I am an undergraduate student at Indiana University Bloomington studying special education and while researching for a final project I stumbled across your blog. I just wanted to tell you I have found not only this experiment but all of your blog very interesting and the information has been very useful! Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

I would like to talk to you about this. You could have information I have been looking for regarding my daughter. How can I get in touch with you - I do not have a Google account. I will look back for your reply.

Angela Mouzakitis, BCBA said...

What specifically about your daughter?

Anonymous said...

Hi Angela,
Not sure if you'll get this but it's so worth the try. My son who will be 5 on Dec 4th has SMD. He shows stereotypy "non social positive". He is a flapper with vocal. He is not autistic. We need help in what direction to go. We did a study at John Hopkins last thursday. I am very discouraged by that event! ANY info would be helpful. Your blog is wonderful. Please e-mail me brownidcat@yahoo
Thanks in advance,