Stereotypic Movement Disorder in Children and Adolescents


ICD-10 Code: F98.4

Stereotypic movement disorder is part of a cluster of diagnoses called the motor disorders.  Motor disorders are a group of psychiatric conditions that include:

  • Developmental coordination disorder
  • Stereotypic movement disorder
  • Tic Disorders

Motor disorders are a group of psychiatric conditions that affect the ability to produce and control bodily movements. Motor disorders may involve developmental delays and deficits involving fine and gross motor functions. Developmental coordination disorder is characterized by deficits in the acquisition and execution of coordinated motor skills and is manifested by clumsiness and slowness or inaccuracy of performance of motor skills that cause interference with daily living. Stereotypic movement disorder includes patterns of repetitive and seemingly driven yet purposeless motor behaviors. Examples of such behaviors include movements of the head, body, and hands that are developmentally abnormal. Tic disorders involve sudden, rapid and recurrent, non-rhythmic motor movements or vocalizations. Such motoric or vocal manifestations are observably involuntary.

What is Stereotypic Movement Disorder?

Stereotypic movement disorder is a potentially dangerous disorder that occurs in 3-4% of children. Stereotypic movement disorder is characterized by repetitive, seemingly driven, and apparently purposeless motor behavior. This behavior might look like hand shaking or waving body rocking, head banging, self-biting, or hitting one’s own body.

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Understanding Stereotypic Movement Disorder

Approximately 80% of children who develop motor stereotypies will exhibit symptoms before 24 months of age. The severity of non-self-injurious stereotypic movements ranges from mild presentations that are easily redirected by a sensory stimulus or distraction to continuous movements that severely interfere with all activities of daily living and adaptive functioning.

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How is Stereotypic Movement Disorder Treated?

Stereotypic movement disorder is treatable. Published treatment recommendations for stereotypic movement disorder include those from The Lancet Neurology.

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