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Restricted and Repetitive Behavior in Asperger’s Syndrome

Every parent of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) has witnessed the restricted and repetitive behavior that is integral to this disorder. Children with AS typically become fixated on a specific topic, issue, or object that, over a period of time, may encompass that child’s existence. As the child moves into adolescence and adulthood, many parents are tempted to focus on reducing these seemingly-baneful fixations in an effort to help their child become more social. While improving social behavior is an important part of the AS child’s personal growth and helps them integrate into a more social environment, parents need to recognize that these restricted and repetitive behaviors serve an important role and function in the life of their child. Specifically, focusing on small things and repetitive practices help ease the anxiety that many children with AS experience, but are often unable to articulate.

Recognition that these behaviors and specific interests function as emotional outlets for children with AS, requires parents to create a balance between their child’s fixations and engagement with the outside world. This may be challenging, as anxiety often enhances the Asperger’s-influenced behavior, but parents should encourage their children to focus on social interactions while also allowing them free time to engage in repetitive behavior. In fact, for parents looking to expand their child’s social skills while also providing a safe space for them to express themselves naturally, we at Courage To Connect Therapeutic Center offer Asperger’s-focused social skills groups expressly for that purpose. Click here to learn more!

And don’t forget – good behavior should always be recognized. Parents of AS children have a unique opportunity to bond with their children after they accomplish something outside of their comfort zone, and should brainstorm worthwhile rewards that will help their child truly feel proud of their hard work.

Dr. Michael Clatch, Psy. D
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