If you have a child who engages in self-injurious behavior, you know how terribly upsetting it can be. Watching a child slam their fist into their head, pick at their gums or fingers until they bleed, or even bite themselves and break the skin is something no one should have to endure. But many of you know that this is common behavior for a child with significant disabilities.
My experience with the school system and with many medical professionals is that they would rather try to control the self-injury with medication - and sometimes that is really strong medication with significant side effects. For years I have fought my school system to assist me in finding the reasons for Ashley's self-injurious behavior, and even though they agree to do their version of a functional behavior assessment, the result has usually been restraint. And that restraint does nothing but increase Ashley's frustration which causes the self-injurious behaviors to increase.
For years, I have insisted that the behaviors were a direct result of lack of communication. The school system and many of the doctors scoffed at that idea. Yet, when Ashley did finally get a teacher who believed in her, and a school setting that was appropriate, the behaviors all but stopped.
With each new school year, with each new school placement, with each new teacher - I wonder if the behaviors will resurface. If they do, my campaign to educate the educators will again kick into high gear. And last night, I found one of the best articles on self-injurious behaviors I have ever read.
Written by a gentleman who is autistic, the article on stopping self-injurious behavior is excellent. I urge all parents and educators to take just a few moments to read the article I have linked to below. I promise you will come away with a much better understanding and approach.