Some common forms of self-injurious behaviors can include head-banging, hand-biting, and scratching. Ways to decrease the behavior will depend on the function or reason. Assessing the reasons is called a Functional Behavior Analysis. Caregivers or professionals typically note the type of behavior being exhibited, when and where it occurs, what happened right before (antecedent) and what happened during or after the behavior (consequence). Noted interventions or strategies to decrease the behavior include reinforcement of alternative behaviors or reinforcement of incompatible behaviors which means reinforcing a behavior that is an alternative for the problem behavior or one that ‘interferes’ with the self – injurious behavior. For example, providing a favorite food before the biting behavior occurs, will interfere with, or be incompatible with the biting of skin. Alternate behaviors can be designed with actual alternate tools that serve the same function the student is seeking with the self-injurious behavior. Determining the function and providing alternate behaviors may decrease the targeted self-injurious behavior. Strategies based on prevention once the functions are determined are presented in the Process section.
I am a graduate student doing a case study on a 6 year old boy with autism. His mother reported that he often causes harm to his own body frequently. She said that it is something that is very disturbing to her and it scares the other students at school. What are some strategies to reduce self-injurious behaviors?