Stereotypy: What Is It? How Can It Be Treated?

Last updated by Lauren Hart

Have you ever noticed a child repeating a phrase or word that’s been said? Of course, we all think of swear words, but in this case we’re really talking about harmless phrases or sounds. This is typical of stereotypy. But what is this strange name? Is stereotypy serious? How do you get rid of it? Don’t panic, we’ll explain everything you need to know about this behavioural disorder.

Stereotypy: What Is It? How Can It Be Treated?

What is stereotypy?

Stereotypy is a set of behaviours repeated excessively without purpose. It can be gestures or words, often associated with OCD or even Tourette’s syndrome. It can indeed be one of the symptoms of this type of illness, but most of us have had stereotypies 😳. In fact, this is a normal stage in a child’s development and most of the time the stereotypies disappear.

Nevertheless, sometimes repeated gestures or words remain, which corresponds to primary stereotypy. When symptoms appear at a different age, this is called secondary stereotypy. It can be caused by a whole range of factors.

👋 You may be interested in this article: What is separation anxiety?

The causes

It’s important to bear in mind all the causes of stereotypy, as this helps us to understand whether it’s primary or secondary 🧐. This behavioral disorder may be a symptom of another psychological disorder or illness, such as:

  • Autistic disorder,
  • Rett syndrome,
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder,
  • Asperger’s syndrome.

But that’s not all. It’s also related to forms of psychosis or schizophrenia. It may also reflect a frontal lobe deficiency or lesion. Finally, drugs, particularly cocaine, cause more severe stereotypic behavior.

The different stereotypies

We’ve talked about gestures and speech, but there are several stereotypies:

👉 Motor stereotypy: this includes all repeated movements such as body rocking or finger movements.

👉 Vocal stereotypy: this corresponds to the identical reproduction of sounds, vocalizations, words or phrases heard by someone close to them or by a source of sound (such as TV).

👉 Sensory stereotypy: this is manifested by the search for particular stimuli (textures, noise, light, etc.) on which the patient will focus for a long time.

👉 Object stereotypy: this involves the overuse of an object outside its initial function. The person will become attached to a particular object that they’ll carry around with them everywhere and touch constantly.

The symptoms

Knowing the different forms of stereotypy allows us to better understand and spot the symptoms. It’s important to remember that certain gestures or behaviors are normal for children and part of their development 👇:

  • Thumb sucking,
  • Tongue and nail-biting,
  • Hair twirling,
  • Head banging,
  • Rocking back and forth,
  • Rhythmic head nodding,
  • Trembling hands,
  • Curling feet,
  • Waving hands,
  • Twisting fingers,
  • Arm flapping,
  • etc.
Worth noting

A common sensory stereotypy in babies and young children is masturbation. It’s a form of self-stimulation to help understand how the body works and is part of a child’s development.

👋 You may be interested in this article: Why we need to stop comparing kids

Treatments for stereotypy

In the majority of cases of primary stereotypy, there are no psychological or physical repercussions. Most of the time they disappear on their own, as this concerns young children 👶. Unless it corresponds to a symptom of another disorder, such as autism. In that case, you first need to detect autism in the child, then seek out multidisciplinary support to prevent stereotypies from impairing social interaction.

We also try to reduce stereotypies when they’re secondary and appear at a later age. Here again, they can disrupt the personal and social life of the person suffering. A psychiatrist should therefore be consulted to look for other associated illnesses. Depending on the individual, a course of medication may be suggested, as well as cognitive behavioral therapy to control and reduce the stereotypies.

Editor’s note – Be alert to disturbances

You now know what stereotypy is. If you notice that your child’s stereotypy is a long-term problem, coupled with other behaviors, it’s important to seek help. The same applies if it appears later and is unusual. If you’re an adult and this concerns you, don’t hesitate to contact an addiction service to assess the consequences of your consumption. In all cases, it’s important to talk about it if it’s disrupting the life of the child or the person concerned.

🤗 Understanding yourself, accepting yourself, being happy... It’s here and now!


Be sure to check out these articles too;

Article presented by Lauren Hart

Writing is a beautiful means of expression that I cannot do without. It has allowed me to channel my hypersensitivity, plus I love writing about psychology and personal development. For me, self-understanding is the best way to move forward!

Read our latest articles here:

Psychological Abuse: Identify It To Get Out Of It

A little belittling remark here, minimizing our emotions there... So many little things that show us that we’re being psychologically abused. It may seem trivial, but that’s the problem. We downplay it too much, which makes it the most common type of abuse. So, how do you identify psychological abuse? What should you do if you’re a victim? Let’s explain.

Behavioral Disorders: The List & Their Definitions

I suffer from an eating disorder, and several people around me have a mood disorder. I’m not completely unfamiliar with behavioral disorders, or at least not these. However, there are several types of disorders and they can even affect sexual behavior. So how do you define them? Here’s a list and some definitions related to behavioral disorders.

8 Reasons Why Malignant Narcissists Are So Dangerous

If the title of this article hasn’t totally scared you away, then you are no doubt wondering what this beast of a person is really like. Well, a malignant narcissist is a step up from a typical narcissist and adds an antisocial personality disorder to the already intimidating mixture. Combined, these two personality disorders represent the relentless need for control, admiration, and power for selfish reasons, making folks with this diagnosis that bit scarier than classic manipulators. Here’s why these people are so terrifying, and how you can get your own back on them.

What Are The Weaknesses Of A Narcissist?

Each one of us has our own weaknesses that hold us back in life; be it at work or in relationships. However, on a more positive note, most of us have the will to work on them and transform them. That being said, once narcissists are brought into the picture, the idea that they want to work on their weaknesses doesn’t exactly seem feasible. For a deeper understanding of these narcissists and more insights into the workings of their minds, discover their weak spots and which pointers they struggle with on a daily basis, yet aren't willing to admit or work on.

How To Camouflage Your Cellulite At The Beach

You were well on your way. You were holding on, motivated by the idea of finally having a bikini body this year. But then the lockdowns and the laziness all hit you at once... That’s right, your cellulite is still there and not ready to leave just yet. But guess what?! Cellulite is like a little pimple, either we own it, or we resort to using tricks to camouflage it.

I Never Thought I’d Say This, But I Hate Working From Home…

Work has always been a synonym of repression for me because it takes up so much of our precious time. Let’s be honest, a 9-5 job with a horrendous daily commute often means that work is sadly our sole occupation. So, when the Covid-19 pandemic struck over a year ago, and we were all ordered to stay home, I found it hard to hide my joy in front of my distraught coworkers; although thankfully my acting talents saved me. You can probably already tell, but going into the office every day was nothing less than torture for me. Yet, all these months later, I’ve realized that I despise working from home and would do anything to sit in my uncomfortable office chair once again!

Do We Always Need To Have The Last Word?

Today, I’m focussing on a habit that drives me crazy: wanting to have the last word. It’s probably because I’m not very good at comebacks or self-confident enough that I’m both fascinated and annoyed by people who always want to be right. But why do they always want to have the last word? What’s behind it?

I Still Suck My Thumb As An Adult

In general, thumb sucking ends around the age of 6. I say “in general” and not “normally”, because as an adult I don’t feel weird or particularly bothered by it. When I get stressed, I allow myself to let go and return to my childhood self by sucking my thumb. Those who know about it or catch me by surprise make me realize I should be ashamed… But is this habit a big deal? What if it makes me feel better? It’s certainly no worse than lighting up a cigarette or biting your nails…

Why Do Hugs And Physical Contact Make Me Feel Uncomfortable?

There are people who don’t like to be touched at all, and who are almost disgusted by physical contact. There are people who like to caress and be caressed for anything and everything, and there are people like me who always recoil when someone tries to touch them. Why do I shy away from physical contact? What if it’s all linked to the past?

10 Examples Of Text Messages A Narcissist Sends

Narcissists definitely move with the times, which is why many of them constantly troll dating sites for new victims. Chatting with a manipulator of this magnitude can be a rollercoaster experience, with dizzying heights that might lead you to believe you are in love, to gut-wrenching lows which will make you question your worth. For any raving narcissist, text message exchanges are a great way to reel in victims and follow through with their master plans for ultimate control over them. Are you texting someone you suspect to be a narcissist? The examples below could confirm your suspicions.

Wengood's favorite tunes 🎵

Wengood's playlist


  1. Only LoveBen Howard
  2. Invalid date
  3. Fix YouColdplay
  4. Beautiful DayU2
  5. Thinking out LoudEd Sheeran
  6. White FlagDido
  7. Lay Me DownSam Smith
  8. Nine Million BicyclesKatie Melua
  9. Put Your Records OnCorinne Bailey Rae
  10. Summertime SadnessLana Del Rey
  11. Imagine - Remastered 2010John Lennon
  12. Shake It OutFlorence + The Machine
  13. Space Oddity - Love You Til Tuesday versionDavid Bowie
  14. What A Wonderful WorldLouis Armstrong
  15. With Or Without YouU2
  16. HelloAdele
  17. Don't Stop Me NowQueen
  18. Skinny LoveBirdy
  19. WingsBirdy
  20. Californian SoilLondon Grammar

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." 

- Oscar Wilde

How to detect a narcissist

How to detect a narcissist

How to soothe an anxiety attack

How to soothe an anxiety attack