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Behavioral Characteristics

Children with Autism are very resistant to change, both in theri physical environment and in their daily routine. Even the slightest deviation in either can make them very upset. Many speulate that the "sameness" helps an autistic person orient themselves in a time and space that they have difficulty understanding. The TEACCH program is designed such that both routine and physical environment are adapted to the needs of the child with autism rather than the child having to adapt.

A second stereotypical characteristic of autism is self-stimulatory behavior, commonly referred to as "stimming." These behaviors are repetitive and can take on multiple forms. They can be seen as rocking back and forth, humming, arm flapping, or finger tapping. Additionally, they can take on forms where they can become harmful to the peron who is performing them. When this happens, it is called self-injurious behavior, and can be very harmful if not corrected. Some examples include hand biting, kicking, or head banging.

The DSM-IV-TR Diagnostic Criteria include at least one of the following requirements:

  1. encompassing preoccupations with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus.
  2. apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals.
  3. stereotyped and repetative motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
  4. persistent preoccupation with parts of objects