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Please stop biting yourself, Sam

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

My son has been increasingly violent towards himself, mostly in the form of biting his hands and arms.  He has bit others as well, but he seems to have figured out that it isn't acceptable, has turned to himself.

He seems to hit a switch at times, his face scrunches and his eyes turn from passive to danger/ranger in like three seconds.  We have chewelry, squeeze toys, those help to a degree, but it hurts to watch your kid attack themselves.  He hasn't quite broken his own skin yet, but he has on others, and it seems like only a matter of time.

SE is fairly non communicative, very IPAD/DS oriented, but is a hugger and a lover when he is not going Walking Dead on himself.  He can tolerate transitions with some cueing thanks to years of work by committed parents and family, but is challenged to accept new situations or changes without clear planning.

Anyone have some success using either CBT approach or something even commonsense to reduce the ferocity of these kids with biting themselves? I've thought about racing gloves, but SE will barely tolerate his open air crocs, can't stand bandages, etc.  He's only nine now, barely 70 pounds, I worry about this continuing unchecked.


Everett, WA

post #2 of 4

Can anyone help Papa IZ?

post #3 of 4

Is he in any sort of therapy? On any meds? I don't mean he should be- I was wondering what kind of other support you might have.


Is the timing of his biting at all predictable? Stressful situations, an anger response, frustration, transitions, or any clues at all? I am sure you know this, but if you could find any pattern, perhaps you could interrupt the cycle before he self-injures.


Oops, I have run. Will check back...

post #4 of 4

The best thing will be to buy a clicker and click exactly how many times he does it. Write a BIRF (behavioural incident report form) every night, it will just take a few minutes, but so worth it. In that form, you write down the cues (facial and bodily cues, like grimacing, pacing, grunting, sweating, flushing) what he did right before and the triggers (what triggered the event, what room did it happen in? Was he prompted to do something? Was an object taken away or introduced? Change of routine? Change of face, new person? A specific noise? Change of temperature?).


Do this for a few weeks, but completely and actively ignore the self-harming and as SOON as he does something appropriate again, give him lots of praise. It is called planned ignoring, where you very much focus on the child and his behaviour, but ignore the unwanted behaviour and praise the desirable one. 


Self-harming is really common in autistic kids, especially biting, slapping and head-butting, it is important to understand cues and triggers before doing anything, really. 

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