Know All About Stereotypic Movement Disorder

Stereotypic Movement Disorder
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Stereotypic movement disorder is a condition in which a person participates in repeated, frequently rhythmic, yet unintended movements. The movements can lead to self-injury in some cases. To be considered a disorder of this behavior the repeated movements should continue for at least four weeks and interfere with the normal daily functioning of the person The disorder most often affects children with autism, intellectual disability, and developmental deficiency.

Simple repetitive movements like rocking in young children are normal and do not suggest any movement disorder. However, complicated stereotypical movement is less common and happens in 3-4% of children. In people with intellectual disabilities and neurodevelopmental conditions, motor stereotypies are often diagnosed, but typically found in children who develop.

Symptoms of Stereotypic Movement Disorder

The commonly repeated movements of this condition include:

  • A movement that is repetitive, purposeless, and deliberate. Handshaking, spinning, and wringing, head pounding, self-hitting, or self-biting involve stereotypical gestures.
  • Movement interferes with everyday life, such as disrupting academics or relationships
  • Behavior begins in childhood
  • Behavior is not caused by another disorder, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder or body-focused repetitive behavior.

The type of repetitive activity varies widely, and each child has its own unique pattern of “signature” action. With boredom, stress, excitement, and fatigue, repetitive movements can increase. Some children may stop their movement if they are concerned or distracted, while others might not stop their repetitive movement.

Causes Of Stereotypic Movement Disorder

There is no clear explanation of stereotypic movement disorder. However, when the person is stressed, frustrated, or bored, the movements tend to increase. Some things that are known to cause the disorder include certain physical conditions, head injuries, and the use of certain drugs (such as cocaine).

How Common Is A Stereotypic Movement Disorder?

The disease most often affects children with disorders of neurology (brain and nerve), autism, and intellectual disability. Throughout childhood or adolescence, it is more common than in adulthood, but it can happen at any age and is more common in boys than in girls.

Diagnosis Of Stereotypic Movement Disorder

If there are symptoms of stereotypic movement disorder, the doctor will start an assessment by completing a complete medical history and physical examination. Although there are no laboratory tests to explicitly diagnose stereotypic movement syndrome, the doctor may use various tests— such as studies of neuroimaging and blood tests— to rule out physical illness or side effects of medication as the cause of the symptoms.

Stereotypic movement disorder diagnosis is made when signs indicate illness, occur for four weeks or longer or interfere with normal functioning.

Exams and Tests

A health care provider can usually take a physical examination to diagnose this condition. Tests should be carried out to exclude other causes, including:

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Chorea disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Tourette syndrome or other tic disorder

Treatment Of Stereotypic Movement Disorder

Stereotypic movement disorder care may include psychotherapy and coping interventions to eliminate repetitive movements and minimize the risk of self-harm. There is often a psychological technique called Differential Reinforcement, which depends on positive reinforcement to show the infant how to improve his or her behavior. While prescription medication is not commonly used in pediatric patients with less severe forms of stereotypic movement disorder, the side effects may outweigh the benefits, treatment may also be an alternative. Effective diagnosis and care, as with many problems impacting children, leads to better results.

In some cases, it may be beneficial to use antidepressants like Luvox, Prozac, or Zoloft (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and SSRIs) or Anafranil (a tricyclic antidepressant). Stereotypical motions in young people with autism conditions may benefit from atypical antipsychotics such as risperidone and aripiprazole.

What Is the perspective for People With Stereotypic Movement Disorder?

The outlook varies with the severity of the disease for someone with a stereotypic movement disorder. If the condition is due to drugs, after a couple of hours, it usually goes away on its own. Stereotypic movement syndrome may be lifelong due to head trauma. Through medicines, both types can often be lessened.


Although preventing stereotypical movement disorder may not be possible, identifying and acting on symptoms when they first occur may reduce the risk of self-injury.

Due to The drugs, the stereotypic movement goes away on their own after a few hours.

Long-term use of stimulants can lead to longer stereotypical patterns of movement. Usually, the movements go away once the drug has been stopped. Stereotypic movements may be permanent due to head injury. The complications with movement typically do not lead to other conditions (such as seizures).

Also Read:  Autism In Kids – Sign, Symptoms, And Treatment