The Occurrence of Autistic Children's Self-Stimulation as a Function of Familiar Versus Unfamiliar Stimulus Conditions

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Psychology (CMC)

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The present study was conducted to determine whether certain stimulus conditions were associated with high and low rates of autistic children's self-stimulation. Six autistic boys were assessed in situations varying along three dimensions: familiarity or unfamiliarity of setting, learning task, and therapist. Each child was observed in 10 10-min stimulus conditions, and trained observers recorded the occurrence of self-stimulation within each condition. The results of a 2 × 2 × 2 ANOVA indicated that self-stimulation occurred significantly more often with an unfamiliar than with a familiar therapist. Unfamiliar versus familiar setting and task were not significant effects, and there were no significant interactions. Also, significant differences were found within each condition, with self-stimulation increasing in frequency as the sessions progressed. Finally, there was a significant and negative correlation between the occurrence of self-stimulation and correct responding. These findings suggest several treatment strategies for facilitating a generalized suppression of autistic children's self-stimulation.

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© 1986 Springer-Verlag

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