Varieties of repetitive behavior in autism: Comparisons to mental retardation

James W. Bodfish, Frank J. Symons, Dawn E. Parker, Mark H. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

822 Scopus citations


Systematic study of abnormal repetitive behaviors in autism has been lacking despite the diagnostic significance of such behavior. The occurrence of specific topographies of repetitive behaviors as well as their severity was assessed in individuals with mental retardation with and without autism. The occurrence of each behavior category, except dyskinesias, was higher in the autism group and autistic subjects exhibited a significantly greater number of topographies of stereotypy and compulsions. Both groups had significant patterns of repetitive behavior co-occurrence. Autistic subjects had significantly greater severity ratings for compulsions, stereotypy, and self-injury. Repetitive behavior severity also predicted severity of autism. Although abnormal repetition is not specific to autism, an elevated pattern of occurrence and severity appears to characterize the disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-243
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000


  • Autism
  • Mental retardation
  • Repetitive behavior


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