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One of the primary characteristics of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is restricted and repetitive behaviors, interests, and activities. Individuals on the spectrum may display this characteristic through behaviors related to their interests. They may also display this characteristic through how they respond to routines, change, and transitions. In this module we will examine this characteristic through multiple case studies. We will discuss the role that this characteristic plays in helping to regulate emotions and decrease stress as well as providing necessary predictability for people on the spectrum. Strategies for incorporating strong interests and the need for routine into programming and support will be introduced. 

Estimated Time to Complete: 2 hours

  • What's Included
  • 20 pages
  • Pre/post-assessments
  • Optional $20 certficate
  1. Describe what is meant by restricted patterns of behavior, interests, and activities in autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  2. Describe the stereotyped or restricted interest area of ASD, including obsessions, special interests, and intensity of interest
  3. Describe the routines and rituals area of ASD, including non-functional routines and transition difficulties
  4. Describe the repetitive motor behaviors and preoccupation with parts of objects that are a part of ASD, including self-stimulation, play, and possibly self-abuse
  5. Explain why persons with ASD may exhibit restricted patterns of behavior, interest, and activities
  6. Identify ways to use restricted patterns of behavior, interests, and activities to reinforce positive changes for persons with ASD

Module Authors

Wendy Szakacs, M.S.

Wendy Szakacs is an OCALI Regional Consultant for northeast /eastern Ohio. She develops evidence-based materials, provides technical assistance and professional development leading projects in social competence, bullying, behavior, communication, and executive function. Szakacs collaborates with regional partners in the creation and presentation of professional development to local school district staff and families. She has presented at local, state, and national conferences on various topics about autism spectrum disorder, including comprehensive program planning, structured teaching, social competence, challenging behavior, and executive function.

Module Contributors

Ruth Aspy, Ph.D.

Ruth Aspy, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist who specializes in assessment and intervention for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. She is co-creator of a comprehensive model of intervention. Along with Dr. Barry Grossman, Dr. Aspy has written The Ziggurat Model, winner of the 2008 Autism Society of America Award for literary book of the year. Dr. Aspy speaks internationally. She has experience in both clinical and school settings. Dr. Aspy has facilitated in the establishment of innovative training programs for parents of children with ASD.

Modules on this site are always free. If you would like proof of completion, you can purchase a certificate when you have successfully completed this module. The certificate will provide contact hours for this module.

Graduate credit for courses is available through OCALI's partnership with Ashland University. Access information about course options and semester dates in the Search.

Continuing education credit from providers such as ASHA and NASW is in progress. For questions contact

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