Self-injury in children is devastating. Watching your child so frustrated, or in so much pain that the only outlet they feel appropriate is self-injury, can break a parent’s heart. It can be distressing when your child is biting, hitting or otherwise hurting themselves and we understand this. Unfortunately, with autism this is a common trait. In some cases it leads to biting and hurting other children, which can embarrass and scare both the child and the parent.
One way to help rectify this issue is with applied behavioral analyses. It is a widely accepted therapy that 32 out of 50 states in the US require health insurance to cover.
Sometimes self-injury can be biochemical and this is something a nutritionist along with a therapist can help to rule out. But often children with autism are in so much mental pain it’s the only way they gain relief. When they figure out this works for them, it becomes a positive consequence for a negative action. This re-enforces the behavior more and create a cycle hard to break.
Children are more likely to repeat behaviors they get something positive from, which is where ABA steps in. This therapy uses a tactic called, discrete trial training. This is where a therapist provides a cue which usually results in self-injurious behavior. When it doesn’t, the child is praised and a new set of positives are placed into their mind.
You can ask your therapist how you can implement this at home with your child, the more positive re-enforcements the child receives the more likely they are to respond in the way we want them too. A child who self-injurers aren’t a lost cause, a therapist can help to change it, so your life and the life of the child are turned around for the better.