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Self Harm


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My staff have been to me for support, but as I have not experienced, I said that I would seek advice.

 

They have an aspergus child, who has started to bite themselves. Not all the time, but from occassionally.

 

They also have an autistic child, who has seen this and started to copy. The autistic child has also started to hit themeself in the head - again, only occassionally.

 

Both children have plently to do when they are at nursery, and their levels of engagement are improving all of the time. It is however, very challenging for the staff when the 2 are in together, which is 3 sessions per week. It does seem to be during these sessions that the biting and hitting of themselves takes place.

 

The autistic child has 1:1 on 2 of these days, but the other child has none.

 

Has anyone come across this before in order to give me some support, so I can inturn support my team?

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I would suggest your real support should come from your SEN adviser - they have the expertise and knowledge of available further support.

 

Good luck - please let us know how you go on!

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Sorry to nit pick, but I really dont like to hear children refered to by their condition. I think there can be a whole different view put on things when we name a child first and the condition second. The aspergers child is a child with aspergers, the autistic child is a child with autism.

Please forgive me if this is how you would speak about them normally, but its a real bug bear of mine. I feel that by naming the condition first thats what will be focused on.

 

In answer to your query, I dont recall ever coming across a child who self harms in that way. I have been with a couple of children who will hit themselves but the stance was to ignore it and try distraction techniques. Obviously your staff will be trying that, but as Sue says your Senco will probably be the best to help. Have the staff tried observing during those sesisons to see who/what triggers it?

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I'm with Rea - I always name the child first and the condition second and all the training I've done stresses this as being very important.

I cared for a little boy with speech & language problems and, before transferring to me (childminder) he bit himself in Nursery out of sheer frustration - usually it was when the session was very busy or noisy and he felt overwhelmed. Observation for trigger points & a chat with SENCO would be my advice.

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I think it is important to try to find out what is triggering this behaviour in the first child. It could be a sign of frustration but it might be something else, so keep an open mind! Remember to consider triggers of a sensory nature too, as they can be very sensitive to these things. Good luck. :o

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You weren't nit-picking Rea - and I'm embarrassed to find that I even wrote that.

 

Have a room meeting tomorrow night so shall talk about triggers then, and then seek advise from the SEN team.

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My staff have been to me for support, but as I have not experienced, I said that I would seek advice.

 

They have an aspergus child, who has started to bite themselves. Not all the time, but from occassionally.

 

They also have an autistic child, who has seen this and started to copy. The autistic child has also started to hit themeself in the head - again, only occassionally.

 

Both children have plently to do when they are at nursery, and their levels of engagement are improving all of the time. It is however, very challenging for the staff when the 2 are in together, which is 3 sessions per week. It does seem to be during these sessions that the biting and hitting of themselves takes place.

 

The autistic child has 1:1 on 2 of these days, but the other child has none.

 

Has anyone come across this before in order to give me some support, so I can inturn support my team?

 

 

Hi there,

 

I have some experience of a child who bit themselves frequently so hopefully this may help a little bit.

 

Does the child have the opportunity to bite into firm food such as chicken legs, meat apples or crusty bread? The sensation we get from biting is pleasurable in the mouth and sometimes children are denied this through a diet which is not challenging enough i.e. soft bread, mashed spuds etc. Maybe discuss this with the parent.

 

 

Is there a trigger for this behaviour. Particulary, is the child asthmatic? It is more common than people think for asthmatic children to bite themselves!

 

Next, does the child bite the same part of their body each time? if so, it may be possible to protect the area by have thicker clothing/bandage etc. It is more often the arm which is mostly bitten although the wrist and back of the hand are also quite common.

 

The act of biting actually releases endorphines into the blood stream - creating a knd of "feel good factor" for a short time. Animals often bite themselves when they are in pain somewhere else on their body so in some ways this could be a very basic animal instinct. Is this child in pain?

 

From personal experience I know that this is a very worrying situation but it is controlllable tro a degree. Distraction at the moment before biting worked well and teaching deep breathing when there were signs of stress often helped too.

 

Hope this has helped little. Good luck

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You weren't nit-picking Rea - and I'm embarrassed to find that I even wrote that.

We all have those moments, don't we Shelley?

 

I didn't reply to this immediately (sometimes my little brain needs more time to assimilate!), but I'm inclined to think that you need some 'expert' advice and guidance. Lots of observations - especially ABCs to try and identify triggers as already mentioned - will provide good evidence of what is happening and when and hopefully your Area Senco (or whatever the equivalent is for your LA) will be able to help you find some strategies to support these children (and the staff working with them).

 

Good luck!

 

Maz

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just to echo - you really do need advice from SEN experts who can visit your setting (+ the child at home, as behaviours don't necessarily transfer across different contexts in children with ASD), preferably those experienced with ASD.

 

Sometimes, it's most useful to consider the 'C' part of the ABC - is the reaction the child receives actually reinforcing the behaviour and therefore making it more likely to occur again? eg. do you give extra attention to the child when they bite themselves ... are they doing it to promote a specific reaction in you?

 

Another thing to consider - a Pre School environment can be very stressful for a child with autism. Have you received any advice on how to structure their time (use of written, visual schedules as a way to order the flow of time, marking beginnings and endings of activities both verbally and visually etc?). Also - 'choice' is likely to be extremely problemmatic and hence stressful for a child with autism. Have you received any advice too on how to reduce this stress - eg. by providing visual cards with sticky velcro on the back for the activities available in a free-play session and then helping the child to order them on their schedule so they have clear prompts for how they plan to structure their play?

 

Just a few ideas - there are lots more! You really do need SEN involvement :o

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