Understanding self-injury among autistic people

A young boy in a blue shirt sits against a blue wall, covering his ears with both hands.Head-beats, face shakes, scratches and other self-inflicted behaviors (SIB) are common among children who are frustrated. According to the United Cerebral Parse, up to 20% of all young children hit their heads with disappointment. Behavior is common and is typically considered developmental until a child is about four years old. Among autistic people, self-harm is even more common and may persist later in childhood and even adulthood. An analysis of 2016 found that 27.7% of autistic 8-year-olds who are dealing with bleeding or similar actions.

Self-traumatic behavior can be worrying for parents and carers. It can also lead to a disappointing and painful crisis by the attendees. In most cases, self-medication does not cause serious harm, such as concussion or life-threatening plagues, although some autistic people are seriously injured.

SIB is a symptom of an underlying problem. Parents, spouses, friends, and others who are invested in the well-being of autistic people should look at the underlying motivation. Understanding emotions and disappointments that cause self-harm is the fastest way to end.

Common causes of self-traumatic behavior in autism

People who deal with the spectrum of autism process information, feelings and sensory inputs differently from neurotype. While the experience of any person with autism is slightly different, certain features of autism that increase the risk of self-injury include:

Aesthetic overload

Autism can make a person particularly sensitive to aesthetic infusions. They may feel overwhelmed by loud noises, find some textures unacceptable or unable to focus on specific environments. A slight change in the sensory environment of a person with autism may feel like torture. Some people with autism are involved in self-injury because of frustration when sensory stimuli become overwhelming. Others self-injured as a natural counterweight to painful sensory inputs.

Lack of control

Both autistic and neurotype children can be self-inflicted with frustration when they have little control over their environment. For example, a child who is forced to play with games chosen by his parents instead of toys they wish can hit their heads. Outdated perceptions of how to support children with autism are sometimes subject to self-restraint or punishment. This can cause self-harm to some children.


Parents and attendees may inadvertently reinforce the SIB by paying more attention to the child while trying to stop the behavior. They could also reward a child immediately after stopping self-harm. This tactic can be reversed and strengthen the action itself, not the act of pausing.


Autism is associated with various other conditions and symptoms. For example, autistic children are more likely to have gastrointestinal problems. For some children, self-wounding is a way of treating or removing pain. A 2017 study suggests that certain body symptoms of autism, such as stomach discomfort, are likely to be due to stress rather than underlying medical condition. This suggests that stressful experiences and chronic stress can play a role in SIB.

Chemical changes

Investigations suggest that SIB and other forms of self-injury can cause the body to release chemicals known as endogenous opioids. This means that self-harm can be a source of pleasure. For a person experiencing anxiety or pain, the pleasant chemical rush associated with self-injury can be appealing. (This theory also applies to autistic and neurotic people.)

Environmental changes

Autism often causes a person to seek routine, order, and control. So when their environment changes, their program is chaotic or can not go for their usual routine, they can become self-inflicted.

How to help an autistic person who injures himself

A generation ago, many tips for managing the challenges associated with autism focused on rewards and punishments. Now, with the advent of autistic self-protection communities, autistic people are able to weigh in different strategies. The overwhelming majority of people with autism and autistic supporters strongly support the sentences. Many have also expressed concerns about rewards, especially when the rewarding person does nothing to cope with the underlying cause of behavior.

Parents and others who care for a person with autism should see SIB as a communication. Some strategies that can help include:

  • A change in parenting strategy. Autistic people often thrive on class and routine. Parental strategies that support this need can minimize SIB. A 2006 study concluded that parental care based on sensitivity improved parenting skills, helped parents feel more capable and reduce aggression and self-harm.
  • Providing more control over the environment. Some studies have shown that giving people with autism more choices and more service can reduce self-harm. For example, instead of telling a child what to eat for dinner, offer him two or three choices.
  • Addressing underlying sensory issues. Sensory overload can be intense and painful. Parents and other caregivers should work to identify and understand the sensory scandals of their child. Advocates suggest removing or reducing these activators as soon as possible. Many people with autism can not function or concentrate until their triggerings disappear. Something as simple as buying an uninterrupted sock could make a significant difference.
  • Avoiding unintended behavioral enrichment. Do not cry, punish or immediately divert your attention to an autistic child who has a self-inflicted injury. Some children with autism have been feeling unheard of for years and have learned that self-traumatism is the only way to get the caregiver's attention. Reverse this cycle by listening carefully when an autistic child attempts to communicate, but minimizing attention to moments of self-harm.

Self-help for autistic people involved in self-traumatic behavior

Some people with autism feel an overwhelming boost to self-harm, even when they do it, causing difficulties in their home, workplace, school, friendship or romantic relationships.

The right therapist can help an autism to support himself, building an environment that feels safe and healthy.The SIB correction begins with an understanding of what this causes. Try to ask yourself which exercises are most likely to cause SIB? Then explore how you feel while you are self-inflicted. Does it cause feelings of relief? Pleasure? SECONDMENT? Recognizing what you get from SIB can help you start cultivating healthy alternatives. For example, meditation can help to feel calm in response to anxiety, while exercise can help you feel embarrassed or frustrated.

Autistic people often find support and help from autistic self-help and defense groups. These groups see autism as an identity and not a disability or illness. They say that autism is a unique lens through which you can see the world. Taking part in such a team can help an autistic person cultivate new strengths and find healthy alternatives to manage sexy emotions.

Medications for autistic self-injury

No specific medication has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent STI. Certain medicines, however, can help in treating the underlying causes of SIB:

  • Antipsychotics: The FDA has approved antipsychotics such as risperidone for the treatment of autism-related irritability. Reducing anger can reduce the user's need to use SIB as an exit. However, antipsychotics often make stress worse. Because many autistic people are already struggling with stress, it is often better to try the other medicines first.
  • Antidepressants: Some antidepressants can help with anxiety, depression, irritability and aggression.
  • Opioid Agonists: Medicines such as naltrexone are opposed to the effects of opioids on the brain. Research suggests that naltrexone can reduce the pleasure of a person with autism when he or she is self-injured, possibly stopping behavior.

Treatment for self-injury to people in the spectrum

Treatment can help autistic people who are self-inflicted, as well as their spouses, parents and other loved ones. A therapist can work with a person to identify SIB activation factors and cultivate healthier alternatives. The right therapist can help an autism to support himself, building an environment that feels safe and healthy.

Family counseling helps families better understand autism while dissolving myths about the spectrum. This can help parents better support their children, promote communication between autistic and neurotypical siblings, and provide a safe place for each family member to strategically and share concerns.

Pair counseling can help autistic people and their partners understand the feelings of others. This encourages better communication, reduces frustration and offers more intimacy.

If you or a loved one want support, you can find a therapist here.

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