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.

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