Repetitive play and repetitive behaviour’s are common features of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They involve the repetition of actions, movements, or activities and are often a way for individuals with autism to self-soothe, cope with anxiety, or find comfort in routines. Here’ s an explanation of both repetitive play and repetitive behaviours in autism:
Repetitive play refers to a specific type of play in which children with autism engage in activities, games, or interactions that are characterized by repetitive actions, movements, or themes. This type of play can involve doing the same activity over and over again or using toys or objects in a repetitive and structured manner. Common examples of repetitive play in autism may include:
1. Lining Up Toys:
Children may enjoy arranging objects in a straight line or specific pattern repeatedly.
2. Spinning Objects:
Some children with autism are fascinated by the act of spinning objects, like wheels or tops.
3. Repetitive Stacking:
Stacking blocks or objects in a consistent order or pattern.
4. Scripted Play:
Engaging in play scenarios with scripted or repetitive dialogues or actions, such as re-enacting the same scene from a favourite TV show.
5. Repetitive Movements:
Incorporating repetitive body movements into play, such as flapping hands, rocking, or pacing while playing.
Repetitive play can provide a sense of predictability and control for individuals with autism, but it may limit their engagement in more flexible and socially interactive forms of play.
Repetitive behaviours in autism extend beyond play and encompass a broader range of actions
and activities that are repeated. These behaviours are often used as self-soothing or self- regulation strategies, and they can manifest in various forms, including:
1. Stereotyped Movements:
Movements: Repetitive body movements like hand-flapping, finger-flicking, rocking, or spinning.
Repeating words, phrases, or sentences spoken by others, which can be immediate (immediate echolalia) or delayed (delayed echolalia).
3. Rituals and Routines:
Insistence on sameness, where individuals may become distressed if their routines or rituals are disrupted.
4. Fixation on Specific Interests:
Interests: An intense focus on a narrow range of interests or topics, often to the exclusion of other activities or conversations.
5. Repetitive Play (as mentioned above):
Engaging in the same play activities or themes repeatedly.
In some cases, individuals with autism may exhibit motor or vocal tics that are repetitive and involuntary.
Repetitive behaviors can serve different purposes, including reducing anxiety, providing sensory
stimulation, or helping individuals maintain a sense of predictability in their environment. While
these behaviours are characteristic of autism, their presence and intensity can vary greatly from one individual to another.
Understanding and addressing repetitive behaviours in autism often involves a multi-faceted approach that may include behavioural therapies, sensory interventions, and individualized
strategies designed to support the person unique needs and comfort while encouraging flexibility and social engagement.