What is Preservation?

Preservation is an uncontrolled response–such as a word, phrase, or gesture–perpetuated to an exceptional degree despite termination of a stimulus. Preservative acts include object perseveration, action perseveration (includes ritualistic behavior), verbal preservation (includes topic and content), grammatical rigidity and deviant repetitive language. For example, repeating a word or phrase, lining objects up for hours, or becoming fixated on a certain topic might be considered preservative behavior.

What causes preservation?

Perseveration is a method for regulating the nervous system. Children use suchbehaviors as coping mechanisms in response to their environments. When they feel overwhelmed, they use perseverative methods to remain in control of that which surrounds them. They feel safe and comforted by the repetition of the action of which they are in control.

Perseveration is one of the key diagnostic criteria of autism. However, preservation is not specific to autism. Children with other disorders also exhibit preservation, including those diagnosed with Down Syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder and Fragile X Syndrome.

How do I help treat my child’s preservative behavior?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy and occupational therapy are useful in treating preservation.

Our Approach at North Shore Pediatric Therapy

At North Shore Pediatric Therapy, our occupational and behavior therapists will help your child fulfill his needs through a variety of behavioral, social and sensory strategies. They will help facilitate positive coping skills to environmental challenges and help reduce or eliminate your child’s preservation habits. By exploring his environment in a safe setting, your child will learn new ways to deal with unfamiliar circumstances at home, school, an d in any social situation in which he may find himself.