"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Mental Health: Stereotypical Movement Disorder

Stereotypical movement disorder is a condition through which an individual makes repetitive, often rhythmic, but purposeless movements. In some cases, the movements can result in self-harm. For this behavior to be considered a disorder, the repetitive movements must proceed for not less than 4 weeks and interfere with the person's normal every day functions. This disorder mostly affects children with autism, mental disability, or developmental disabilities.

Repetitive movements which are common with this disorder include:

  • Rocking
  • Hit your head
  • Self-biting
  • Chewing finger nails
  • Self-beating
  • Picking on the skin
  • Shaking hands or waving
  • Addressing objects

The reason for stereotypical movement disorder shouldn’t be known. However, movements are inclined to increase when the person is stressed, frustrated or bored. Some aspects known to cause the disorder include certain physical ailments, head injuries, and use of some drugs (e.g., cocaine).

This condition mostly affects children with neurological disorders (brain and nerves), autism, or mental disability. It is more common in childhood and adolescence than in maturity, but can occur at any age and is more common in boys than girls.

If symptoms of stereotypic movement disorder are present, the doctor will begin the assessment by conducting a whole medical history and physical examination. Although there aren’t any laboratory tests to specifically diagnose stereotypic movement disorder, the doctor may use various tests – comparable to imaging studies and blood tests – to rule out physical illnesses or medication unintended effects because the reason for the symptoms.

A diagnosis of stereotypic movement disorder is made when symptoms are suggestive of the disorder, last 4 weeks or longer, and interfere with normal function.

The goals of treatment are to treat any behavioral injuries, make sure the child's safety, and improve the kid's functioning. The child's environment may have to be modified to scale back the chance of injury. For example, a baby who hits his head may have to wear a helmet to guard himself from head injuries.

The commonest treatment approaches for youngsters with this condition are therapies geared toward reducing stress, which might trigger movements and behavior changes. A toddler who’s busy picking or hitting could be taught to maintain his hands in his pockets when he feels the urge to select or hit. Relaxation techniques may also be used to assist the kid resist the urge. A behavioral therapy approach called Differential Reinforcement of Other Behaviors (DRO) goals to reward socially appropriate behavior. Another behavioral approach, called Functional Communication Training (FTC), teaches and rewards the person to make use of alternative responses or verbal strategies to interchange stereotypical movements when aware that they need something or feel distressed.

In some cases, antidepressants comparable to Luvox, Prozac, and Zoloft (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs) or Anafranil (a tricyclic antidepressant) could also be helpful. Atypical antipsychotics comparable to risperidone or aripiprazole have also shown profit for stereotypic movements in adolescents with autism spectrum disorders.

The outlook for somebody with stereotypic movement disorder varies depending on the severity of the condition. If the disorder is attributable to medication, it normally goes away by itself after a number of hours. Stereotypical movement disorder attributable to head trauma could be everlasting. All forms can often be relieved with medication.

Although it is probably not possible to stop stereotypic movement disorder, recognizing and responding to symptoms once they first appear can reduce the chance of self-harm.