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Treat primary complex motor stereotypies at home


An instructional, parent-delivered behavioral therapy to help treat primary motor stereotypies in children.


Often seen in children who are otherwise developing normally, complex motor stereotypies are rhythmic, purposeless movements of the hands or arms. Made over and over again these behaviors first manifest themselves in early childhood, typically around age 7 and can last well into the teenage years. These movements are divided into two categories, primary and secondary.

With secondary complex motor stereotypies the repetitive movements are associated with autism, sensory abnormalities and other types of developmental conditions. With primary complex motor stereotypies, there are no developmental abnormalities. Because there appears to be no inciting condition these persistent, troubling movements are often of grave concern to parents worried about their afflicted childrens’ psychosocial development. Children with primary CMS can often be the focus of social stigmatization, and their daily routines and activities can be disrupted.

And while there are no established drugs or medical treatments, Johns Hopkins researchers have developed a behavioral therapy program for children suffering from primary CMS. The Johns Hopkins Motor Stereotypy Behavioral Therapy Program has been clinically proven to reduce the severity of primary CMS in children from ages 7 to 17. Developed from studies demonstrating that combined two component therapy can successfully reduce the frequency and severity of these movements, the Johns Hopkins Motor Stereotypy Behavioral Therapy Program is a parent-administered therapy that is safe and effective.The program consists of an instructional DVD that helps parents teach their children the behavioral modification techniques necessary to reduce CMS movements.

Clinical trials have shown a 15% reduction in SSS Motor, 24% reduction in SSS Impairment and 20% reduction in SLAS scores. In short, these numbers point towards a treatment that can provide significant and measureable relief to patients suffering from a malady for which treatment options are woefully sparse.

Click here to learn more about the Johns Hopkins Motor Stereotypy Behavioral Therapy Program.


Harvey Singer, MD, focuses on general child neurology with a principal interest in caring for children with movement disorders. Dr. Singer’s research focuses on clinical problems, such as pediatric movement disorders, Tourette syndrome and motor stereotypies. He also focuses on therapeutic trials for movement disorders and the identification of genetic biomarkers, and studies of the underlying pathophysiology. He also actively studies autoimmune mechanisms in autism.

Dr. Harvey Singer received his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University Medical School. He completed his internship in pediatrics at the University of Illinois Research and Educational Hospital. He completed his residency in pediatric at Cleveland Metropolitan General Hospital followed by a residency in child neurology at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Richard Waranch, PhD, took his doctoral degree in psychology from the Northeastern University, completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Behavioral Psychology at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, and is currently an assistant professor in medical psychology at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is a consultant in neurology at the Sinai Hospital, in Baltimore.

Dr. Warnach was director of the Behavioral Medicine and Biofeedback Clinic, at Johns Hopkins from 1979-1992. Dr. Waranch specializes in the use of behavioral techniques (biofeedback, relaxation training, behavior modification and cognitive-behavior therapy) for the treatment of psychophysiological and behavioral disorders. He has authored research articles and book chapters on topics including stress management and the behavioral treatment of pediatric headaches, tics, motor stereotypies, and irritable bowel disorder.