Self-injurious behavior, also known as SIB, is known to be the most devastatingly harmful types of behavior, and children with autism exhibit this behavior issue the most.
The injuries can range from biting, extreme scratching or hand rubbing, to head banging and biting. The worst part is that it comes out of nowhere; you have to be vigilant at all times.
We understand how difficult it must be for you to witness your child going through it. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place. Below are three helpful techniques that will help you understand the cause behind it and minimize the SIB your child is exhibiting.
Let’s take a closer look at the three techniques and find out more about how you can prevent SIB.
Understanding the Frustration
When it comes to children with autism self harm is a primary cause for concern, and parents have to remember to be patient.
The most common reason for SIB is frustration. Many parents have also reported that their children exhibit this behavior when they are frustrated.
This mostly occurs because the child is unable to communicate adequately, or they lack communication abilities to begin with.
They could be failing to explain something or they can’t seem to understand what you are asking them to do. This frustration from being unable to understand or make someone understand can trigger the self-injury.
What You Can Do to Reduce Frustration
The solution is easy and will require a lot of patience from your part. You can teach your child functional communication skills like using a communication board, a Picture Exchange Communication System, or sign language.
When you find which type of communication suits your child, it’s important you stick with it. Using different ways of communication can increase frustration levels instead of lower them.
It’s not only parents, but doctors, therapists, and any other caregivers have to use the same system of communication. Make sure that your child can use this communication system anytime and anywhere.
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If there is a situation where your child is unable to understand what they are being asked, it’s possible they have a physical issue. A stomach illness or even headache can cause them to display frustration and then shift to SIB.
Under those circumstances, you’ll need to consult a doctor for a thorough evaluation.
Notice the Avoidance
In our research, we’ve come across reports such as witnessing a child engaging in SIB to get away from uncomfortable social interactions or instruction.
Ignoring the reason behind their avoidance, or failing to understand it, will only make things worse as time goes by. Parents always have to be vigilant and notice this behavior right away.
Avoiding to perform an activity or trying to escape the situation where they have to come across someone or something that makes the child uncomfortable are signs that can’t be taken lightly.
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As parents, therapists, and caregivers, it’s your duty to notice it, find out the reason why, and tackle it in a way that won’t induce SIB in the future.
Sounds pretty easy, right? All jokes aside, let’s find out more on how you can notice the signs and manage to deflect them effectively.
Look for the Signs
Keep an eye out for the signs that they might start to hurt themselves before they are meeting a certain individual or in the middle of a specific activity. To understand the reason, parents have to first notice that this behavior is only to avoid someone or something.
If the child is asked to do something they are not comfortable with, like their therapist asking them to leave the playground, they will begin to hurt themselves, resulting in SIB.
This means the therapist’s request is invalid, and their attention is diverted towards stopping the child’s harmful behavior.
To learn from this example, the therapist has to let a trained professional interrupt and stop the child for safety reasons. However, they should also continue to conclude with the request so as to not let the child think they can get away using SIB.
Paying Enough Attention
If a child is using self-injury to attract attention, it’s vital for parents to make sure that their child is receiving positive attention when they are not exhibiting SIB.
It’s not possible to ignore any kind of SIB; you’ll always have to give it your immediate attention. Whenever possible, intercede as neutrally as you can, like blocking their behavior from happening without saying anything.
Remove your verbal attention entirely and try a different approach instead. Use positive reinforcements on behaviors that trigger SIB, such as asking them to use their hands in a different activity.
This prevents them from causing self-harm and is a great way to take something negative and turn it positive.
When The Cause is Unknown
There are situations where the SIB occurring will have no cause for it. The first priority of parents or therapists/caregivers is that the child is safe. Using protective headgear or restraints are some known ways to assist with SIB.
Minus the frustration and fear that comes with this behavior, parents need to learn to be patient, understand, and learn the reason behind their child’s harmful behavior.
After that, carry out a function-based treatment, which will help ease the situation. This will help to minimize the harmful behavior and raise more appropriate behaviors.
In conclusion, we’d like to say that not every child with SIB has access to many helpful outlets most of the time.
There are a lot of parents that don’t take the time to understand or listen, and then there are some who do the total opposite, the result being that the latter child gradually learns to stop SIB and the former does not.
You can make all the difference in the world when you try to learn the reasons and help your child behave positively. Work together with your child’s therapist and come up with a method that works for your child.