Motivation to engage in stereotypic and repetitive behaviour influenced by context in children with learning disabilities


The reasons that children engage in stereotypic and repetitive behaviours are many and varied, and it is thought that heir motivation to do so changes with the context. The researchers in this study set out to test the empirical evidence for this observation. They looked at interventions designed to reduce the behaviours and posited that these might be improved if there was a better understanding of the interaction between motivation and context.

They analysed data from two groups of children, the first, 37 children with learning disabilities and the second, 37 children with learning disability and autism.

They looked at the beahviours in both groups in three contexts: free time, transition and while engaged in tasks. They were looking for distinctions between intrinsic motivators, enhanced sensation and decreased anxiety and extrinsic motivators – seeking attention, objects or escape.

They found significant differences in motivators during free time and transition, but no single motivator predominated while children were engaged in tasks.

In both of the two groups, they found that sensory enhancement was more likely to be a motivator when the context was free time and that anxiety reduction was more likely to be a motivator when the children were in transition.

They found that transition was the context most likely to influence extrinsic motivators, but that this affected the two groups differently.

They conclude that the motivation to engage in stereotypic and repetitive behaviour was influenced by the context in which it occurred, and that transition had a powerful effect.

Context Influences the Motivation for Stereotypic and Repetitive Behaviour in Children Diagnosed with Intellectual Disability with and without Autism, Joosten, A. et al.,in Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 25: 262–271.

Share on Facebook Tweet this on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+
Mark as read
Create a personal elf note about this blog
Profile photo of John Northfield

John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

More posts

Follow me here –