03 9657 1600



03 9639 4955


PO Box 374
Carlton South
VIC 3053

Restricted Interests &

Repetitive Behaviour

A key feature of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities. People with ASD may:

  • use repetitive movements (such as rocking or flapping their hands);
  • respond to objects in unexpected ways (such as placing objects in a row, or spinning the wheels of a toy car);
  • repeat the language of others (echolalia);
  • insist on “unnecessary” routines or rituals (such as eating the same food in a particular order every day or leaving the house at exactly 8.07am every day and taking the exact same route to school every time);
  • experience high levels of anxiety and distress when change occurs;
  • become attached to unusual objects (such as a kitchen plug or shoelace) or
  • be intensely fascinated with one topic, such as dinosaurs, trains or phone numbers.

Not all of these characteristics will be present in every student with ASD, but all students will have displayed two or more restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour in order to have received a diagnosis.

Please be aware that some people with ASD (and their family members) may find terms such as “obsessed” or “restricted” unnecessarily negative ways to describe their behaviours and interests. Rather than saying that a student “is obsessed with lightbulbs”, a teacher might say that a student has “a passion for lightbulbs” or “in-depth knowledge of lightbulbs”.