Behavior & Sensory Support

What you need to know

  • Young children who have AS learn to respond to personal cues and interactions. They can be very intuitive.
  • Interest in people allows children to express a broad range of feelings and form close bonds and real friendships with others.
  • They can be part of family and class activities, household chores, and daily living skills.
  • They may like recreation, music, and physical activity.

  • All young children who have AS have a degree of hyperactivity. 
    • The constant movement may cause accidental bruises and cuts.
    • Grabbing, pinching, and biting in older children may happen and can be related to this extra movement.
  • Behavioral supports may be helpful in limiting the less desirable behaviors that are socially disruptive and self-injurious.
  • Some behaviors may be suggestive of an Autism Spectrum Disorder. However, social engagement is often quite good, and Autism Spectrum Disorder is not a common diagnosis in children with Angelman syndrome. Some of these behaviors may include:
    • Stereotypic behaviors such as lining up toys, love of spinning
    • Stereotypic motor movements (rocking, hand flapping)
    • Repetitive behaviors  and play with unusual objects
    • Sensory interests (lick/mouth/sniff objects)
    • Rituals (hoarding food or objects, food fads) 
    • Food related behaviors
      • Eating non-food items
      • Apparent increased appetite
      • Increased interest in food which may lead to obesity

What you can do

  • Make sure teaching strategies being used are appropriate for children who are already socially engaged.

  • Discuss involvement of behavioral or mental health professionals, or medications with the parents as needed.
  • Firm directions, rules, and clear expectations are helpful.

This is especially true when handling unplanned changes.

  • Talk through expected changes.
  • They usually thrive with consistency and routine. They can be easily upset with disruption.
  • Prepare for any change in schedule.
  • Provide a safe area to share emotions.
  • Teach and model use of words and/or pictures in sharing emotions.
  • Teach, emphasize, and reinforce behaviors you want to see.
  • Make sure they have an effective communication system.

  • Provide information to and discuss differences with the child’s peers.
  • Help develop confidence and focus on strengths.
  • Provide positive reinforcement.
  • Teach appropriate social behaviors/skills (e.g., how to ask a friend to play).
  • Teach how to recognize facial expressions, body language, and moods in others.
  • Teach how to regulate own body – sensory strategies may be helpful.


  • Restricted access to food in all areas
  • Locks on the refrigerator
  • Constant supervision
  • Calorie restriction
  • Consistent and scheduled meals and snacks
  • Programs that help teach behavioral and weight management strategies