Stereotyped behaviours in blind children

Elisa Fazzi, Josè Lanners, Simona Danova, Oreste Ferrarri-Ginevra, Chiara Gheza, Antonella Luparia, Umberto Balottin, Giovanni Lanzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Stereotyped behaviours occur frequently in blind children. Most authors attribute stereotyped mannerisms to factors such as hospitalisation, motor limitations, and reduced capacity for exploration. There seems to be a specific association between blindness and behavioural mannerisms, such as eye pressing and eye poking, which have been observed in children with peripheral blindness. We studied the prevalence of stereotyped motor behaviours in a sample of congenitally blind children with and without other neurodevelopmental disabilities in order to assess the types and features of such stereotyped behavioural traits. Twenty-six congenitally blind children (11 male and 15 female) were assessed through videotape recording and through a questionnaire focusing on the type, frequency, form of manifestation and duration of the children's stereotyped behaviours. Stereotyped behavioural traits were observed in 19 (73%) of the patients. Stereotyped behaviours most frequently observed were body rocking (8; 30.7%), repetitive handling of objects (8; 30.7%), hand and finger movements (7; 26.9%), eye pressing and eye poking (8; 30.7%), and lying face downwards (6; 22.8%) and jumping (3; 11.4%). We found that a reduction in stereotyped behavioural traits could be obtained by stimulating appropriate adaptive behaviour in children, while these behaviours were increased by restricted environmental conditions, reduced sensory stimulation and reduced motility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)522-528
Number of pages7
JournalBrain and Development
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 1999


  • Blind children
  • Disability
  • Stereotyped behaviours

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neurology


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