A POSSIBLE NEW FUNCTION OF REPETITIVE BEHAVIOURS IN AUTISTIC SPECTRUM DISORDER
Repetitive behaviours in general are present in different neurological, psychiatric and developmental disorders, but certain types of these behaviours are characteristically autism-specific. Some theories take them as overt outputs of neurological and biochemical deficits, others invest them with adaptive functions. After outlining the main approaches a new theory is introduced concerning the possible function of repetitive behaviours, according to which these repetitions induce a certain altered state of consciousness, generated by the given individual for herself, aiming at a calming-effect via reducing the arousal-level. The aim of this paper is to reflect upon theoretically whether the neurochemical and neuroanatomical mechanisms behind repetitive behaviours in autistic spectrum disorder induce or contra-induce the formation of an altered state of consciousness. This problem - over and above its scientific significance - might contribute to the understanding of the nature of repetitive behaviours from a point of view quite ignored so far: that of subjective experiences accompanying overt behaviour. On the other hand, revealing the possible functions of these repetitions might serve as a basis for elaborating appropriate reactions to repetitive behaviours in clinical therapy.
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