What are some of the behavioral characteristics of autism?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 16,333
    Autism expert Peggy Halliday discusses the behavioral characteristics of autism.

    Peggy Halliday

    Peggy Halliday is a board certified associate behavior analyst who has specialized in autism education for the past ten years. She is the Director of Outreach Services at the Virginia Institute of Autism (VIA) in Charlottesville, VA. VIA is a non-profit organization which provides a day school and other resources for families, educators, and other professionals seeking services, training or information about autism and evidence-based interventions. The Institute operates a year-round school for students ages 2-22, a 700-volume library, training workshops, internships for undergraduate and graduate students and teachers, and customized trainings for schools. Peggy supervises a wide range of outreach services, including development and supervision of comprehensive, home-based early intervention programs incorporating naturalistic, incidental, and structured teaching using the principles of applied behavior analysis; training for parents and home instructors; skills assessments, functional behavior assessments and intervention plans, and consultation on Individual Education Plan goals. She has presented trainings and workshops at state and national conferences.

    Host: What are some examples of behavioral characteristics of autism?

    Peggy Halliday: Behaviors of autism that show up tend to be in terms of excesses of behaviors that might appear in typical kids but not to this extent. For example, stereotypical behavior sometimes just called stereotypies or things like motor movements, rocking, spinning, flicking your fingers, flapping yours hands, these things all show up in some extent if you look peak-end to any classroom, you will see kids twirling their hair or swinging their leg or tapping their pen, but in students with autism, that shows up to a greater degree.

    Another characteristic of autism that is behavioral is a persistent preoccupation with a particular interest, it maybe an object or a topic or it could even be a part of an object or a part of something. Another characteristic is an excessive adherence to routines and rituals making it very difficult for children to transition from one activity to another and allowing for some obsessive compulsive behaviors as well.