SMD is more common in boys. Things that may raise the risk of SMD are:
Having a developmental problem, such as ASD
Family history of SMD
Symptoms are common in children aged 3 to 5 years. It may last longer in some children. Stereotypic movements:
Affect the arms, hands, head, or entire body
Do not change over time
Can be hard to notice or be very noticeable
Stop when a child’s focus changes
Symptoms may be:
Biting one’s nails, lips, hands, or other body parts
Teeth clenching or grinding
Banging the head on objects
Hand or arm flapping
Wiggling one’s fingers or opening and closing the hands
The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and health past. You will be asked what starts the movements and what makes them stop. A physical exam will be done. Psychological testing will also be done.
SMD fades over time in some children. Movements that do not cause problems may not need treatment. Movements that impact social function or cause self-harm will need to be treated. Some choices are:
Distraction helps to stop the movements. Behavioral therapy can help a child see patterns and reduce or stop movements with positive reinforcement.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may also be used to change patterns of thinking that are not helpful. It may not be helpful in very young children.
There is no specific medicines to treat SMD. Medicine may be chosen for children who do not respond to therapy.
Disorders of childhood: Stereotypic movement disorders. MentalHelp.net website. Available at: https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/disorders-of-childhood-stereotypic-movement-disorder. Accessed July 18, 2019.
Primary (non-autistic) motor stereotypies. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/neurology_neurosurgery/centers_clinics/pediatric-neurology/conditions/motor-stereotypies/index.html. Accessed July 18, 2019.
Your child’s stereotypies. Evelina London website. Available at: http://www.evelinalondon.nhs.uk/resources/patient-information/your-childs-stereotypies.pdf. Updated August 2016. Accessed July 18, 2019.
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