Does your child repeat themselves?

Do any of you deal with repetitive behavior? For example, does you child with #Autism repeat themselves over and over again?

My kids repeat themselves over and over and over again.  I don’t know if they even realize they are doing this but holy crap does it ware me down. I try never to give my kids what they want, simply because that are melting down or repeating themselves or asking the same question, over and over again.

However, let me tell you,  repetitive behavior slowly but steadily wares you down.  At least it does for me.

There are times that I would be willing to give them anything they wanted, simply to make the questions stop.


How do you cope with the repetitive behavior and what are your thoughts on why it occurs? Is it compulsory or sensory related?

Please share in the comments.  🙂

Rob Gorski

Full time, work from home single Dad to my 3 amazing boys. Oh...and creator fo this blog. :-)
0 0 votes
Article Rating

Join The Conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

most voted
newest oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

One clartification where my previous post says 43 it should say , say it in your head for  3 more times…. Also the tokens are optional toward something of choice ie… an outing, treat, special time together.. I wuld use them only if needed an d eventually I would fade them as incentives. Try to use the routine without first and introduce incentives only if needed. These techniques may be used for others such as ODD , individuals and ADHD . Perseveration can exist in more than one group.Good luck and I hope you find a solution.


I am am a mother of an autistic verbal teen. I also teach elementary ASD students. Repeating or perseverating is my childs worst feature and even though I have a way to manage it, it still drives me crazy and that’s all we can do–manage it. I am certain it will never go away but it has dissipated over the yrs. Here are some techniques I gleaned from my prof. development and trial and error to manage and lessen the repeats and behavior.
Technique no. 1: I do a 1-2-3- rule-CHOICES routine. 1- I answer (put a card down)-the card has just a  no. 1 on it-nothing else.  2- I explain (put a card down-no. 2 card ) 3 – (I say, that’s a repeat-you get to make a choice-3 card) I then give a choice that my child picks as an alternative behaviour; choices are written on two cards: Ex: CARD 1: I can say how I feel by writing it down now. (child gets a token for this) or CARD 2: I can read OR look  my____books instead or play with my_______(2 tokens)   Cards can be used in any order and more than once up to 30 min or more so child can refocus and move on……When you do this use a neutral voice, maybe even no eye contact once you get to three as the function of perseveration is seeking  attention now since you have removed the need for clarification ( done in 2).
Move to saying it so you can use it anywhere and anytime, you are in control now! Read on…..
Eventually you do this with no words just the prompts if the child can read or understand speech. If the child is non verbal, use pictures and role play-this will take training and trials. You can later moving to just saying it all – say 1- my answer is…. 2 the explanation or answer is… 3- you are repeating yourself…..make a choice you can for ex…. write down how you feel –say it in your head 43 more times   or read -play with your……….listen to………etc…. then you walk away. Its hard but try and stick to this routine. It will lend control to the situation and give your child alternate choices at the same time.!  I also use this in my profession so it is tried and true. You can also decide those choices in advance, knowing your own childs behavior. Most will pick an activity. The option of going back to the perseveration is there but it has to be quiet-in the head or away from you. Ultimately your child will flip to the activity, I believe since he or she chose it for a card or option.
At this point we have done this so often- we say it all. Its a routine to deal with perseverating. These children strive on structure. If you are consistent, it works and after a while you will see that he or she expects this response and goes with it. It buys enough time to move the child on to something else.
I have created this routine using a combination of ABA, some research on a 1-2-3- rule and by adding my twist of choices that are chosen by the individual child since they are all special and unique in their interests and their perseverations. This can also be done with repetitive behavior… to get away from a tv or ipad or bouncing a ball too much and to move on for example..
Technique 2; use code words; That’s a NI – not important …. for asking a detail that is not of importance to the situation (say this after you explained its non importance first) ex.. my child doesn’t like certain accents so will perseverate on how a word got said. Or that’s a SQ – same question. That’s an EQ – end of questions …. walk away.
I can explain this more later but I need to go to work… sorry.
Try , persevere, laugh…….. I wish you all well… I get it… im on the roller coaster too but I have found some brakes!!!


Glad to hear I’m not the only one breaking down at times 🙂 My 3 yr old has been repeating “Disney Store” for over 2 solid weeks now. He loves the place, I get it, but it’s nearly all he says. He has very little verbal communication at all, so its hard to discourage it…I try not to. But damn if it isn’t hard to not lose patience, hearing it CONSTANTLY. Just hoping this will pass…but I’m sure it will be replaced with a new phrase!


My youngiest son is 3 about to be 4 he repeats himself over and over again. “Mom look there’s monkeys on t.v. Mom look there’s monkeys on T.v.”; “I see them they are climbing.”; “Mom look there’s monkey’s on t.v.” “Mom LOOK there’s monkey’s on t.v.!” It got to the point I would ignore him when he did this because I know he knows what he is talking about. Then I started to tell him things like that’s not a monkey it’s a bear. He tells me “NO mom it’s a monkey.” Then he changes the subject to something else after he done laughing. This has helped a lot for me. He still repeats but only says it 2-3times then walks away. However, my husband is having a harder time. He has more patients than I do specially now that I am pregnant. He has finally started to get fed up since our son will repeat everything to him but not to me. We never had this problem with our first son.


My son often repeats lines and phrases from movies and TV shows. Sometimes sounds he hears as well. It doesn't really bother me, to be honest. I asked him about it and he agreed that his brain is just really busy and overloaded sometimes, so that's kind of why he does it. I think it comforts him, because he does it when he's happy and with family, and at night before he goes to sleep.


Our daughter constantly repeats herself until she spirals into a fit if she feels she isnt being heard or if you dont repeat back to her liking. Its heart breaking when she gets upset because its almost like she cant stop until shes crying.


I have 2 boys with autism. My 3 year old (who recently started talking and I cannot understand him half the time) will repeat the same thing until he gets what he wants. The moment I start making pancakes he begins: "I want a pancake please, pancake, ok." Over and over again. It drives me crazy, it takes a while before the first pancake is ready and nothing I say to him makes him stop. My 5 year old is non-verbal and I would love for him to say something, even if repetitive. But he would play intro to "Curious George" over and over. It was annoying at first, now I don't even notice. But they fight, because one wants to watch the episode and the other – just the intro.

Peg Rideout

I work with children who have autism in the public school setting, and I will take a spiral notebook and title it My Question Book. When a child repeats a question over and over we write it down in his book. Then when it comes up again I do not verbally respond but give him the book. Many times knowing that the question is there reduces anxiety and allows him to move on. As much as possible increase visual support and decrease verbal exchanges when repetitive topics reoccur. I definitely empathize with all of you.


@Peg Rideout WOW what an awesome idea!!


@Peg Rideout Thanks for posting this AWEsome idea! I am a gen ed teacher who loves to find new ways to help out my "special" kids while teaching a class of 36!


@min_svart_ros @lost_and_tired my bro #KennyKrobath is nonverbal on his #dynovox he says.. The price is right and @TheEllenShow 50x's a min

Dan R

Now imagine if your sons were deaf as well and every time they asked a question they tapped or touched you. Combine the wearing down of the repetitive questions, plus being constantly touched and it can be completely crazy making.


@Dan R ugh! I would hate that, I don't like being tapped to begin with….my skin would be crawling. I would get all jumpy and paranoid…


@Dan R My senses can be sensitive, too. I try to remind myself that children are communicating. Not being able to communicate with a child can be heartbreaking. Meditating helps me to center myself, chill my brain out and be ready in a loving and compassionate place for the new day. UCLA is doing remarkable things with their Mindful Awareness Research Center  for caregivers, teachers, cancer patients and children with autism and ADD.&nbsp ;


@Gertmeister  @Dan R Yes, I agree with you on pointing out even it can me to some degree annoying, but it is form of communication and soooooo much better than silence!


my aspie son is constantly repeating himself, if my little guy with autism had the verbal skills to repeat himself I would throw a party.   Of note, my husband has never been officially diagnosed with anything, but he picks a "catch phrase" it seems, and says it ALL THE TIME.  For awhile he would walk around saying "Agner" over and over.  Then it was "Dr Sanjay Gupta".  The worst part is that my diagnosed aspie will often pick up on it and then they are BOTH saying it!  Ack!


Rob, I repeat questions and phrases as well. Not quite sure why.


@Chloe123 thank you Chloe. Do you find comfort in the repetition?


@lostandtired  @Chloe123  Somewhat I think. I don't really know. I will think about it though and let you know. 🙂


@Chloe123 thanks again. I could see there being an element of comfort. I was just curious. Thank you for helping me better understand my children. 🙂


Every comment here hits home! I have a child who repeats the same question or comment over and over. He is very high-functioning, but he has OCD to go with the autism, and he gets in the very same "loop" that another comment mentioned. Right now he is focused on Dominos pizza. For 2 days I have been hearing, "We will have Dominos maybe this weekend." Sometimes I do break down and yell at him to stop because I can't handle it anymore. One of his big ones is hotels. He wants to know if we are staying in a hotel again and when. We rarely do, but it's one of his favorite things, as long as they have an indoor pool. He starts asking months in advance and asks several times a day. I'm sure it's a comfort thing, needing to be reassured that things will be consistent. I do it too, usually when I don't get any response from my husband or kids. But I also find myself obsessing about certain things and forgetting that I already asked or said something. Once someone reminds me, I usually can get back on track. In my case, it's a combination of ASD, OCD and age. But I'm sure it drives my family crazy too. I wish I knew the answer to make it stop, but after almost 14 years, I don't. It is probably one of the hardest parts of having a child with ASD because I want to be able to reassure him, but I can't fix that!


My son has Non Verbal Learning disorder and we have seen over the years that when he is anxious about something he will repeat himself over and over with lots of repetative questioning as well.  It is his way of taking in enough information to understand the experience he is having.  Usually after I have answered a question 2 or 3 times, I realize that I need to get creative with my responses because there is something lacking in it that makes it difficult for him to gain the understanding that he needs to process


@Spencercat that's a really good point.


Yes, repetition is always there. The forms of it do change over time. 
Repetitive questions were really annoying, but that is how they collect information or if they just simply don't understand either time, space, or situation when the answer might change. Sometimes, it can be a sensory simulation as well. 
When my little one was around 7-8, she had question repetition a lot. Over the time as her vocabulary grew, she got over it eventually. She still sometimes repeats her questions, but now I can just correct her by pointing out that she just asked it a few minutes ago and you could tell the search process happens in her head and she confirms that she did. 
When she barely started to talk, she was more like an echo. Whatever you say to her or ask, she repeats exactly the same back to you, and a few times too… That was especially hard when you are trying to get an answer from her, and instead she is just repeating your question. Speech therapists worked with her on that for few years by teaching her different situation scenarios. She was also mimicking movie conversations a lot for another few years…
I can say that only last year (she is 10 now), she started more of the creative and conscience conversations. Before they were either by known modeled conversation or none at all.

TJ Isaacson

i repeat myself..   A LOT… i don't realize I'm doing it, but my hubby and friends point it out. for me, once I'm made aware of it, it's easier to control, or stop completely. I'm an adult on the spectrum, and all it takes is for someone to calmly state "you're repeating yourself again"  or "you already said that"  and I can usually stop with "oh, I didn't realize" for me, it's that I really don't like the silence. so having a radio, or the TV on in the background, even if I'm not paying attention to it, helps a lot. of course, it can get annoying for other people in the room/house, but that's what helps for me. have you tried just pointing it out to the kids?  maybe just saying something like "do you know how frustrating it is to me when you say the same thing over and over again?"  sometimes I do it because I don't realize that the person heard me the first time. the little cues that most people pick up on, that say that I was heard, I don't notice. so unless it's verbally acknowledged, i'll find myself repeating myself because I don't think I was heard, or understood.  or was outright ignored (which frustrates me to no end) so my husband will often, without looking at me, just acknowledge what was said, even something as simple as "ok, i heard you"  or "just a minute" or "give me 5 minutes" is often enough to stop it.  As an adult, "not right now" is typically plenty. but for the kids, I've found that "not right now" to them means ask again in 10 seconds. giving them a set time that it's ok to ask again, or outright saying no, (but often have to give a logical reason why you are saying no, or they'll ask again anyway) helps tremendously, even with the almost 2 year old that is on the spectrum as well. hope that helps….


@TJ Isaacson I've noticed that my husband gets so wrapped up in his thoughts that he doesn't notice that I answered him sometimes. Does this happened to you?


@TJ Isaacson He will also keep repeating himself sometimes if I don't respond they way he thinks I should…he expects more emotion usually, lol.

TJ Isaacson

@MicheleChaney  @TJ Isaacson allll the time… lol.


@TJ Isaacson I am glad to hear that it is helpful to you to be pointed out as we started doing the same with our daughter. It does seem to help her to realize that she is doing it.


@TJ Isaacson thank you for sharing and providing some insight.


Little Missy is not verbal enough to repeat herself, 🙁 but she plays snippets of songs over and over again on her iPad, until you're hearing "Cheese! Cheese!  The robot wants cheese!" in your sleep.  She also has OCD-type rituals where she has to do things three times before moving on, like walking through a doorway, or putting clothes on.  She'll put a sock on, take it off, repeat X3.  Her psychologist thinks those rituals are an attempt to regain some control over her life, as so much of her day is structured around things she doesn't want to do. (School, therapy.)  The prescribed course of action is to delay or interrupt the cycle to remind her that life goes on when she doesn't complete the ritual.


For my husband and kids it's anxiety related. They are obsessively thinking about it over and over again in a loop in their heads and so they repeat themselves. Sometimes it fills like they keep repeating themselves hoping for a different answer…I've found that not necessarily a different answer but a different way of saying it sometimes helps. 🙂


My husband has some traits but the repeating got worse after he got PTSD….military. OCD as far as I know is always anxiety related. As said above looking for control.


@MicheleChaney thank you for sharing and thank you and your husband for your sacrifice and service… 🙂