Perseverating, or getting stuck on a topic or task, or repeating the same question or phrase over and over again, is common in Prader-Willi syndrome. Often, the repetitive behavior is provoked by anxiety as the repetition provides a level of comfort to an individual with PWS. Unfortunately, perseverating can be exhausting for parents and caregivers.
Here are some strategies to reduce perseverating:
- Try to identify the source of anxiety and provide the necessary information or reassurance to alleviate it.
- If you’re certain the individual already knows and understands the source of his or her anxiety, the following strategies can be used:
- Set limits. Try saying, “I’ve answered that question twice already. I will only answer it one more time and then we’re done.”
- Ask your loved one to repeat your answer: “What did I say?”
- Ask the repeated question back to the individual: “What do you think?”
- Remind your loved one he or she knows the answer to their question.
- If possible, simply ignore the repetition.
- Provide a visual response. Write the answer down, draw a picture, or point to something concrete (e.g. a schedule, calendar, etc.).
- Let your loved one have the “last word.”
- Avoid power struggles and ultimatums.
Reminder: If your loved one truly doesn’t really understand a question or situation, he or she might truly be repeating the question to gain understanding. In this case, you should rephrase your question or explain a situation using different words.
Keep in mind anything that raises anxiety has the potential to cause a behavior problem. Therefore, reducing or eliminating sources of anxiety will help reduce or eliminate behavior problems.