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Defintion: The term stereotypy generally refers to a class of responses that are hypothesized to be maintained by automatic or sensory consequences and not by socially mediated consequences (attention,  escape, access to tangibles).   The range of behaviors often characterized as “stereotypies” include: repetitive vocalizations and  repetitive motor movements

It is important to ensure that any repetitive or seemingly non-functional  behavior is not termed a “stereotypic behavior” based upon the topography (shape of form of the behavior).  Stereotypy is a FUNCTIONAL  description and thus should only be given if the function has been objectively and empirically shown to not be socially mediated.

Standards of Practice:

1. Always empirically assess the function of the behavior deemed stereotypic and rule out the environmental variable effects.

2. Interventions to address stereotypy should seek to add appropriate vocal behavior to the repertoire not just seek to extinguish the undesired vocal behavior. This is particularly essential if the individual has a limited vocal repertoire.

3. In general skill building and reinforcement based interventions should occur prior to the use of punishment based reductive interventions being implemented.

Additional Issues:  The term “Non-Functional” is sometimes used in conjunction with stereotypy,  this would be an incorrect use of the terms as the behavior is specifically defined in terms of its function.



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