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Diagnosis: Stereotypy – 5 Minutes for Mom


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OliviaWhen my daughter was two-years-previous, the Pediatric Neurologist at Vancouver Youngsters’s Hospital recognized her with Motor Stereotypy. On this newly up to date submit, we share our expertise with Stereotypic Motion Dysfunction (SMD) as we labored to know Olivia’s medical situation.

January 29, 2010 — After weeks of ready, right now was our appointment for Olivia at Youngsters’s Hospital with a Pediatric Neurologist.

(Within the fall, I observed Olivia was experiencing what I assumed have been facial tics. Our physician despatched us to a Pediatrician, who ordered an EEG, which led to our appointment at the moment with a Pediatric Neurologist. Earlier this week, I posted about her worsening signs.)

The Analysis

The Pediatric Neurologist believes that Olivia is experiencing stereotypy.

Till yesterday, I had by no means heard the time period stereoytpy. However, a reader truly emailed me yesterday after studying my publish about Olivia’s tics, (or what I assumed have been tics,) and informed me that her daughter had the identical signs and was recognized by a Pediatric Neurologist with stereotypy. She wrote to inform me to not fear, that stereotypy can happen in wholesome youngsters.

What’s Stereotypic Motion Dysfunction

Stereotypic motion dysfunction, additionally referred to as Main Motor Stereotypies, is a dysfunction that begins in childhood and is characterised by rhythmic, repetitive, fastened, purposeful however purposeless actions that cease with distraction and isn’t related to different neurological or developmental delays. Examples of main complicated motor stereotypies can embrace wiggling fingers in entrance of the face, rotating or opening and shutting the palms, finger wiggling, hand flapping, flapping and waving of the arms, and so forth.

What causes Stereotypic Motion Dysfunction

The reason for stereotypic motion dysfunction is unknown.

Nevertheless, one faculty of thought is that motor stereotypies might contain cortical-striatal-thalamo-cortical pathways. A current research by Dr. Harvey Singer of Johns Hopkins exhibits there could also be a hyperlink between GABA and glutamate dysfunction and first complicated motor stereotypies, however far more analysis must be carried out.

Rising Up with Motor Stereotypies — Olivia’s Story

Right here is how Wikipedia defines Stereotypy:

A stereotypy (pronounced /ˈstɛriː.ɵtаɪpi/) is a repetitive or ritualistic motion, posture, or utterance, present in sufferers with psychological retardation, autism spectrum issues, tardive dyskinesia and stereotypic motion dysfunction. Stereotypies could also be easy actions reminiscent of physique rocking, or complicated, similar to self-caressing, crossing and uncrossing of legs, and marching in place.[1] A number of causes have been hypothesized for stereotypy, and a number of other remedy choices can be found.[2]

Stereotypy is usually referred to as stimming in autism, beneath the speculation that it self-stimulates a number of senses.[3] Associated phrases embrace punding and tweaking to explain repetitive conduct that may be a aspect impact of some medicine.[4]

Distinction from tics:

Like tics, stereotypies are patterned and periodic, and are made worse by fatigue, stress, and nervousness. In contrast to tics, stereotypies often start earlier than the age of three, contain extra of the physique, are extra rhythmic and fewer random, and are related extra with engrossment in one other exercise relatively than premonitory urges. Examples of early tics are issues like blinking and throat clearing, whereas arm flapping is a extra widespread stereotypy. Stereotypies should not have the ever-altering, waxing and waning nature of tics, and may stay fixed for years. Tics are often suppressible for temporary durations; in distinction, youngsters not often consciously try to regulate a stereotypy, though they are often distracted from one.[5]

Proposed causes:

There are a number of potential explanations for stereotypy, and totally different stereotyped behaviors might have totally different explanations. A well-liked rationalization is stimming, which hypothesizes that a specific stereotyped conduct has a perform associated to sensory enter. Different explanations embrace hypotheses that stereotypy discharges pressure or expresses frustration, that it communicates a necessity for consideration or reinforcement or sensory stimulation, that it’s discovered or neuropathological or some mixture of the 2, or that it’s regular conduct with no specific rationalization wanted.[3]

excerpt from Wikipedia

The physician assured us that whereas stereotypy does current in youngsters with different issues reminiscent of autism, it’s also widespread in sometimes creating youngsters. (Her personal daughter skilled stereotypy.)

She stated that as Olivia will get older, she might study to inhibit her stereotypies and do them extra when she is alone. She might cease doing them altogether.

Our Subsequent Steps after Olivia’s Motor Stereotypy Analysis

The neurologist is referring Olivia to a pediatric neuropsychiatrist who focuses on stereotypy, tics and Tourette’s, in addition to ADHD, and so on.

OliviaI’m glad that we will obtain some kind of comply with up care. Neurology doesn’t deal with stereotypy and considers it benign.

I’m so grateful that my daughter doesn’t require treatment or remedy! However, contemplating our household historical past, I do want to have her obtain some type of long run comply with up with a specialist. (Olivia’s brother Jackson has ADHD, ODD and Nervousness, and one in every of Olivia’s cousins is on the Autism Spectrum.)

I simply favor to remain as educated and conscious of what my youngsters are experiencing as attainable. Even when there isn’t something I “can do,” information simply makes me really feel higher.

I’ve been studying tonight about stereotypy, and certainly it does appear to happen typically in developmentally wholesome youngsters.

Right here is an excerpt from an informative article I discovered and it describes how stereotypies can have an effect on youngsters who shouldn’t have psychological retardation or pervasive developmental issues:

“…The stereotypies seen in these youngsters have been related particularly with durations of engrossment resembling when enjoying a recreation or collaborating in an exercise, but in addition at occasions of pleasure, stress, fatigue, and tedium. They often lasted within the vary of seconds to minutes (however might go on for hours in some instances) and appeared many occasions per day. In virtually all instances, the stereotypies could possibly be suppressed by sensory stimuli or distraction…

Stereotypies often develop in youth, principally earlier than 2 years of age, whereas tics start to happen in youngsters at age 6 7 years. In contrast to tics, which quickly change from one factor to a different (blinks, grimaces, twists, shrugs), stereotypies are extended episodes of the identical iterated motion.

Individuals with a tic dysfunction typically will cease their tics throughout engrossing actions, however people with stereotypies typically will begin their repetitive actions throughout such durations. Distraction often interrupts stereotypies however not tics.

Most of the youngsters within the research had a comorbidity, together with ADHD (15%), obsessive-compulsive dysfunction or obsessive-compulsive conduct (20%), tics (13%), studying incapacity (four%), or had an early language or motor developmental delay that resolved itself (12%).

The biologic foundation for stereotypies stays unclear, though some proof recommend that there’s a dysfunction within the circuitry between the cortex and the striatum, Dr. Singer stated (Pediatr. Neurol. 2005;32:109-12).

If a toddler’s stereotypy doesn’t intrude together with his exercise, Dr. Singer stated that he doesn’t advocate any specific remedy…”



I didn’t anticipate to go away the hospital feeling relieved. Moving into, I felt hopeless.

Watching my daughter get misplaced in repetitive actions, her physique clenched and her face contorted, is extremely upsetting. It interrupts her always all through her day and a few episodes go on and on.

OliviaHowever figuring out that these episodes will not be damaging her mind, that they aren’t seizures and I didn’t depart the hospital with a prescription for treatment, is such a aid.

Life isn’t good. Life isn’t typical. All of us have our distinctive challenges, experiences, and blessings.

As troublesome as it’s to observe my daughter clench and contort her face and her physique, whilst I maintain her or we stroll down the road, I’m making an attempt to have peace that that is simply a part of the plan the Lord has for her life.

I have to have religion and let Olivia thrive within the life God has deliberate for her.

THANK YOU once more for all of your loving help! Your feedback, messages, and prayers imply a lot to us!!!

UPDATE on Olivia at 4 Years previous

Olivia is now 4 years previous. She is a cheerful, energetic, and very pleasant little woman who retains us in fixed laughter.

Olivia nonetheless has her stereotypies. They haven’t lessened — she nonetheless experiences them repeatedly and is now conscious that she has them. There are specific conditions and stimuli that all the time brings on her stereotypic actions, corresponding to driving in a automotive, ready in a lineup, being within the bathe or getting out of the bathtub/bathe, and becoming bored. Stress and fatigue do appear to make them worse however usually are not as a lot of an element because the stimulation round her.

I can “call her out” of a stereotypy by calling her identify firmly. She is going to then “come back” and take a look at me as if she simply got here from one other place. However, until I proceed to carry her hand and have interaction her, she is going to instantly return into her stereotypic actions.

Olivia will typically go for an hour or extra and never have any stereotypic actions, however at different occasions they’re much more frequent.

It isn’t straightforward to observe my daughter wrestle with stereotypic motion dysfunction. It’s exhausting when individuals stare at her, youngsters and adults alike, confused by what they’re seeing, or ask me if she has particular wants.

However, regardless that I really feel a slight panic typically once I see my daughter “go away” into a spot I don’t perceive as she experiences her motor stereotypies, I continuously thank God. My daughter is alive. She isn’t experiencing seizures or something that’s hurting her. She is glad. She is right here. And I’m so very very grateful.

In case your youngster is experiencing stereotypic actions or tics, please don’t despair. Sure, it’s arduous. I do know the ache and panic I felt once I first realized one thing was happening with Olivia. We would like the most effective for our youngsters. We need to hold them from all struggling.

However we will’t. Life typically hurts. And a analysis of stereotypy or tics??? Nicely — it isn’t the top of their world or yours. As Julia’s cousin informed Olivia, it’s simply part of who she is.

UPDATE on Olivia at Seven Years Previous

It has been over 4 and a half years since I wrote this submit. It has been unimaginable to learn the feedback and obtain emails from different mother and father and other people coping with Complicated Motor Stereotypy.

Studying from each other is such a blessing — thanks a lot to every of you who’ve shared your ideas and experiences with us.

Olivia is now virtually seven and can be beginning second grade subsequent week. Her CMS actions are rising tougher for her and she or he has began to precise frustration with them.

She has a troublesome time in school and any time she has to attend or attempt to keep nonetheless and take heed to directions. When her actions take over, she can’t pay attention or comply with what somebody is saying.

Olivia is an unimaginable youngster, filled with power, enthusiasm, and creativeness. She not often stops shifting and appears to be right here on this earth to make associates and have enjoyable!


It has been so encouraging to learn within the feedback under from youngsters and adults who’ve Complicated Motor Stereotypies.

As mother and father, it’s scary to observe our youngsters “slip away” to a spot we have now by no means been and don’t perceive.

Nevertheless, listening to from individuals who HAVE been there and report that it’s a nice, refreshing, and protected place makes all of the distinction on the planet.

We would like the most effective for our youngsters — and fortuitously, it seems that our passionate, energetic, lively youngsters who expertise stereotypical actions may have extra power and creativeness than they will include. It looks like their brains have simply discovered one other approach to launch all the additional stimulation that’s pent up of their our bodies and minds.

Once more, thanks a lot for your concern and curiosity in our candy Olivia. To listen to an inspiring tackle stereotypies from the point of view of a six-yr-previous, learn this submit Susan wrote together with her daughter’s recommendation to Olivia…


And don’t miss the remark part right here on this publish. There’s SO a lot nice info and encouragement from readers…

UPDATE on Olivia at Eleven Years Previous

It has been 9 years since Olivia was recognized with stereotypic motion dysfunction and we started posting about motor stereotypies and Olivia’s journey.

Olivia is eleven years previous and is within the sixth grade. She nonetheless has her motor stereotypy and it presents precisely the identical as when she was youthful however maybe barely stronger in its depth.

What it is like growing up with Motor Stereotypies and Stereotypic Movement Disorder

She experiences her motor stereotypies numerous, maybe lots of of occasions a day. They nonetheless happen most frequently when she is bored or unstimulated similar to sitting in school listening to the instructor, driving in a automotive, standing in line, and so forth.

Nevertheless, she can also have her stereotypic actions when she is engaged or excited, actively listening, strolling, watching a film, and so on.

Her motor stereotypies proceed to frustrate and maintain her again at college. She struggles to remain current throughout classes and even throughout one on one instruction.

Olivia has been recognized with ADHD in addition to a studying incapacity in math. She is presently on 18mg of Concerta and finds that it improves her focus, however doesn’t scale back the quantity or depth of her actions.

Emotionally and socially, Olivia is flourishing. She continues to be a cheerful and outgoing baby who makes associates simply. Whereas she is usually embarrassed and infrequently teased or questioned about her motion dysfunction, she handles it properly.

In case your youngster or somebody you understand is recognized with motor stereotypies or stereotypic motion dysfunction, otherwise you watch your baby expertise “tics” or uncontrollable actions that you simply don’t perceive, it may be complicated and scary.

Watching my toddler’s tiny physique stiffen as she clenched, contorted and raised her left hand to her mouth numerous occasions a day was terrifying. In these moments, she was elsewhere and I didn’t know what was occurring to her.

However please don’t despair. Our youngsters are okay.

What it is like growing up with Motor Stereotypies and Stereotypic Movement Disorder

They may develop and flourish and their motion issues might assist them to develop into extra resilient, extra compassionate individuals!

Our youngsters aren’t in ache once they “disappear” of their actions — the actions are literally pleasurable to them.

In fact, if an individual’s motion consists of self-hurt, then the state of affairs may be rather more difficult and painful!

Personally, we haven’t needed to cope with self-hurt. Olivia typically by chance bites her fingers or fist when she is experiencing her stereotypic motion, however it’s only a minor damage and she or he typically laughs and says, “I just bit myself!” when she stops shifting.

For these of you who’ve youngsters who self-hurt, reminiscent of self-biting, self-hitting, eye-gouging, and so forth., my coronary heart goes out to you! That have to be extremely troublesome to handle.

Please share within the remark part about your experiences with motion issues.

One of many causes we’re republishing this submit is to reopen the feedback. (Our remark sections shut on older posts to attempt to forestall spam feedback.)

The remark part on this submit is an unimaginable useful resource, with many feedback from individuals affected by complicated motor stereotypies (CMS) and stereotypic motion dysfunction (SMD), together with adults sharing their perspective on dwelling with stereotypies.

And for extra solutions to your questions on complicated motor stereotypies (CMS) and stereotypic motion dysfunction (SMD), hyperlinks to assets and the newest analysis, we might be publishing a brand new publish on stereotypies, Motor Stereotypies and Stereotypic Motion Dysfunction later this week.

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What it is like growing up with Motor Stereotypies and Stereotypic Movement Disorder

Written by Janice, co-founding father of 5 Minutes for Mom.

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