Sensory Extinction Procedures

If a child’s self-stimulatory behavior requires external reactions, such as toys, doors, devices, music, games, and/or the responses of other people, then sensory extinction procedures are generally easier to apply.

For Instance

 If a child derives sensory stimulation from repeatedly throwing glassy objects down because he enjoys the sound it makes, then parents can more easily block this behavior from happening on a consistent basis by putting all glassy items away from his reach.

But, if a child’s self-stimulatory behavior relies solely on their own actions, such as verbalizations, flapping hands, hitting head against hard surfaces, etc., then parents will find it very difficult to block these behaviors on a consistent basis.


A parent cannot place a child’s high pitch screaming on extinction if the screaming is maintained by self-stimulatory reinforcement (because the reinforcement is occurring internally). In these situations, the most promising planned process to reduce self-stimulation often lie in teaching the child other way to play, socialize, self-regulate, and entertain himself to meet the function of the behavior. Other promising strategies may include appropriate response and designing an engaging curriculum to prevent the child’s need to self-stimulate in the first place.