Special Education Strategies to Decrease Self-Injurious Behaviors

Do you have a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder or related disorder who exhibits self-injurious behaviors?

In today’s Teacher Tips newsletter, Watson shares strategies to reduce the use of self-injurious behaviors in your child with special needs as this may sometimes be harmful to him/her and can often be a way for the child to communicate.

Start by determining the cause of the behavior by using a Functional Behavior Analysis. The appropriate intervention will be dependent on the identified cause. Read on for some suggested interventions based on cause.

  • Inability to communicate: work with your child’s speech therapist to identify the best mode of communication. It may be using pictures, or an adapted communication device.
  • Frustration with a task or subject: if the behavior occurs in school when academic demands are placed on the child, consider decreasing the demands and pair tasks with reinforcers.
  • Sensory: try to provide replacement tools for the child to bite or chew if he/she needs sensory input; also ensure your child has a schedule that will keep him/her engaged and therefore less likely to exhibit self-injurious behaviors.

Be sure to reinforce when your child is engaged in appropriate behaviors- prevention is key! If the self-injurious behaviors are occurring at a high rate and/or intensity, enlist the help of a behavior specialist.

Check out our YouTube video to learn more ways to identify and prevent self-injurious behaviors in your child with special needs and review the a

dditional resources on the corresponding special education resource page. For more special education resources, visit Watson Life Resources.