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Biting hands in response to stress / excitement - sensory issues?

(10 Posts)
AngelDog Thu 22-Nov-12 00:03:25

2.11 y.o. DS1 bites his hands when he experiences a strong emotion - excitement or upset. It?s worse when he?s upset than when he?s excited and the more distressed he is, the more he does it. He has constant teeth marks on the backs of his hands now and it?s been going on for a good few months.

On occasions when he?s been really stressed and I?ve been holding his hands to guide him away from a situation he has tried to bite his arm, stomach and legs ? as if he simply can?t cope without biting some part of himself.

I mentioned it at a speech therapy assessment and the SALT suggested it might be due to sensory issues. Googling it has brought up stereotypic movement disorder which sounds like a good description of him but it doesn?t tell me much other than give it a name.

It has got much worse since DS2 was born 5 weeks ago. DS1 has been very fraught in this time (though he loves his brother to bits).

He also flaps his arms like a bird when excited, and sometimes does other repetitive things when excited eg repeatedly running to cuddle me and twiddling my ear (ear twiddling is what he does when bf?ing and going to sleep). He has phases of head shaking too, though that?s only occasional.

He also bites furniture and, when out, fences /gates/railings etc. He doesn?t usually bite or chew small objects in the way that babies/toddlers do whilst at the oral stage.

Other issues he has which may or may not be related are:

* Slight sensitivity to temperature ? bathwater has to be tepid, not warm; won?t wear jumpers indoors; wakes lots in the night if he?s too cold

* Slight sensitivity to clothes ? hates sleeves rolled up, dislikes wearing shoes, won?t wear shirts with collars.

* Always wakes in the night if his nappy leaks. He is generally a very restless sleeper and rolls around lots. Has never consistently slept through the night.

* Often struggles with loud noises ? dislikes handryers and vacuum cleaners (used to get hysterical about them but is better now).

* Dislikes other children and seems to struggle more than the average with sharing.

* Has a strong sense of personal space and panics when another child comes too close (though he generally copes okay with adults now).

* Seems to get more upset than his peers when e.g. another child plays with a toy he wants to use.

* He?s a very fussy eater (not a resistant one though) and seriously messy when eating. He also has numerous food allergies. He is willing to try new foods when encouraged to, but doesn?t often progress to actually eating them.

* Separation anxiety / stranger anxiety since 7 months, though greatly improved now. He interacts well with close family members and engages in ?shared attention? with us. He prefers to talk to other adults through us e.g. asking us about what they?re doing & saying rather than talking to them directly, though he will sometimes do this.

* He has verbal dyspraxia and poor diction partly due to restricted tongue movement (he?s being assessed for tongue tie next week), plus a high palate. He is very verbal, though, and his level of language is generally very good.

* Gross motor skills are okay but not brilliant ? he bumps into things at home quite a lot, and falls over at least 3 or 4 times a day. Hates running, is a really slow walker and generally dislikes exercise. He prefers indoor activities. However, he?s a constant fidget and can?t sit still.

* He drinks vast quantities and wees loads at night (he soaks a nappy padded with an extra sanitary towel and often leaks onto a cloth booster too), even though he uses the toilet before bed. The urine in his nighttime nappy stinks in the morning and when we used cloth nappies, made his skin really sore.

* He breastfeeds more than the average bf child his age ? it was very frequent before I got pg with DS2; now it?s not so frequent (3 times a day) but he takes a lot of milk ? feeds can last 30 mins or more.

Any ideas what this could be, or how to investigate further? We see a paediatrician for his allergies so I want to talk to him about possible causes and what we can do to reduce or stop the hand biting.

(And apologies for the essay! blush)

lisad123 Thu 22-Nov-12 02:01:23

Check out sensory processing disorder x

lisad123 Thu 22-Nov-12 02:01:42

And autism

SallyBear Thu 22-Nov-12 05:41:40

Go and see a chiropractor (preferably McTimoney) to see about his sleep just incase it's skeletal position related. I agree with Lisa123 re. the CPD and ASD. You might want to give him a chewy tube to help with the chomping here. It must be very distressing for you to see him like this.

Firsttimer7259 Thu 22-Nov-12 13:48:44

My DD is very delayed and bites herself when upset, to the point of bruising her forearms. We give her muslins/babygros to bite and say 'for biting', OT explained what she's doing as trying to access calming nerve receptors under the chin/throat area. Its worked very well over time and she generally looks for something to bite rather than biting herself now. Sensory Processing Disorder is part of whats up with her - altho she is a lot less developed than what you describe.
Do persist in finding a safe biting alternative - maybe something that would feel shape and texture wise like something he likes to bite. Im really happy shes basically stopped doing this because I was afraid she'd start to do some serious damage as she got bigger.

AngelDog Thu 22-Nov-12 21:34:18

Thanks everyone; I'll do some research.

We have a chewy toothbrush for him which I've just managed to find again, but it's not very big so those tubes look good.

coff33pot Thu 22-Nov-12 21:57:27

DS went through a phase of biting his arm as a regulatory process to keep him grounded in anxious situations. He now cracks each finger one at a time before something like entering school, making a decision etc oh and if his senses are really playing up he holds his big toes and cracks them (i know!! ouch!)

I have said I wish he wouldnt do it as its going to affect his bones later in life but he has said he cant not do it or he wont feel right at all.

He has sensory processing disorder.

AngelDog Sat 24-Nov-12 23:05:36

Sallybear, have you any ideas whether skeletal type issues would be present from birth or might develop later? We did take DS to a cranial osteopath when he was tiny, but she didn't find any particular problems. (I'm not sure how good she was though as we just picked her out of the phonebook, and she gave me some clearly uninformed advice on breastfeeding which makes me a bit hmm.)

I'm going to the GP next week as I'm not sure our usual paed (who we see re allergies) will have time to go into all of this.

I'm very strongly suspecting some kind of sensory processing disorder as that does seem to explain a lot. I think autism is less likely, but will mention it to the doctor.

We've been having good success with the chewy toothbrush today - but he's dropped it somewhere and I can't track it down, despite having put it on a dummy strap to keep it safe. hmm

SallyBear Sat 24-Nov-12 23:46:17

We saw a McTimoney Chiropractor because my DS's sleep was so horrendous. He has Autism and is also deaf. When he was a back to back labour and came out in a rush. He wasn't dx with Torticollis (which is a shortening of the muscle in the neck) until he was about 6 months old. By that time he had developed plagiocephaly and this had pushed the bones in his skull in different directions so his ears weren't aligned etc. it meant that he never slept well. We took him to a chiropractor at 4yrs old. He had three (maybe four I can't remember exactly) vertebrae out of the alignment between his shoulders, his pelvis was out of whack as was his sacrum. Anyway, after the first session he slept through for the first time. It helped his behaviour and self stimming as he was getting sleep! Obviously he has ASD, but he is a lot happier now so I am glad that we went down that route rather than the melatonin road, as I honestly did not know how I was going to give it to him because he won't take meds at all.
Anyway, I have attached the official link to the McTimoney Chiropractic site for you to look at and maybe see someone. Best £90 I have ever spent. here

AngelDog Sun 25-Nov-12 00:11:19

Thanks; that's helpful. We'd got the possibility of taking him to a chiro at the back of our minds anyway as he's having a tongue tie assessment next week, and lots of children who have tongue tie revision can benefit from osteo/chiro work apparently.

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