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Headbanging hell

(17 Posts)
badkitty Sat 01-Oct-11 09:46:47

Am at the end of my tether with DS1 at the moment seriously can't cope with him anymore. He will be three in December, has CP, severe delays in all areas so no speech etc. He has been through a lot of change recently - has a ten week old baby brother and we have moved house. His behaviour could be challenging at the best of times - v quick to go into tantrums from frustration when he would sometimes headbang deliberately on anything hard. Since moving house it has become unbearable. He is constantly going into meltdown and smashing his head. It is worst at 5 in the morning, usually just after I have gone to sleep from feeding ds2, when he starts smashing his head on the side of the cot and screaming (actually we have him in a soft sided travel cot so less to hurt himself on, buy it still has hard corners which he bangs on, I try draping towels and stuff over to soften it bit they just get pulled off). He has a mass of bruises on the sides of his forehead, it looks awful. He has even started doing it when we go out in the buggy, smashing himself from side to side in a tantrum. I just can't bear it. I fantasise about him being taken away from me. I just can't believe our lives have come to this. Dont know what we can do about it, an taking him to the gp next week, not because I expect they can so anything but because he seriously looks like he is being abused so I need to tell them what is happening. I dont have anywhere i can put him where he is safe. Even my mild mannered easy going DH is starting to lose it a bit I think. What can we do?

sickofsocalledexperts Sat 01-Oct-11 09:50:44

My DS went through the headbanging phase, and I was told to ignore it as it was classic attention-seeking behaviour. I found that very hard, and to be honest my DS never even really did it to actually harm himself, just to express rage (at not getting his own way, or sometimes because he had stubbed his toe). But actually ignoring it did work and he doesn't do it any more. But I think you have to be sure he isn't doing it for some physical reason. Can you try and see if calpol stops it, then it might mean he's in pain? Or make his room clear of all hard edges and sleep him on a mattress,as you desperately need some sleep! I feel your pain, it is the hardest age and stage but it does get easier as they grow up.

oodlesofdoodles Sat 01-Oct-11 09:55:41

Mine had a head banging phase, though perhaps not as severe as yours. I was told to ignore him while doing it and then once he's stopped, go to him and give attention. So make sure that he is getting plenty of attention, but not to reward the head banging.

Claw3 Sat 01-Oct-11 10:06:21

Ds used to do this terribly, he gave himself 2 black eyes from headbutting a radiator and we ended up in A&E. I was told to ignore it, its attention seeking, they never do it hard enough to hurt themselves etc, etc. It went beyond this and i couldnt ignore it, he would do serious damage to himself, i had to physically restrain him where possible. It was like the terrible twos, that went into his 3's, but 100 times worse.

Ds did grow out of it, is the only helpful thing i can say.

badkitty Sat 01-Oct-11 10:06:28

I'm afraid he'll do himself real physical harm if we ignore it though- seriously you should see the bruises! I had thought about mattress on the floor but he will just bang his head on the walls or door. Will ask gp to check if there could be an ear infection or anything.

badkitty Sat 01-Oct-11 10:20:49

X-posted with you Claw. Ds has given himself a black eye before too. Glad to hear your DS eventually grew out of it.

purplepidjinawoollytangle Sat 01-Oct-11 11:01:56

Ignore the behaviour, but stand and put a cushion between him and whatever he is banging - with practice you will get better at spotting where he's heading!

Apart from the cushion, do not interact with him in any way until he stops.

Let me know if there's anything I can make for the corners of his cot and buggy (I have a small business making adaptive clothing, we might be able to come up with a solution via PM if you're interested)

purplemurple Sat 01-Oct-11 11:25:04

My ds has AS, he headbanged until he was just turned three. Totally sympathise with you, he would wake at 1 every night and headbang and scream for an hour, he also did it in bis buggy.

If i tried to stop him by picking him up he would butt me, scratch and pinch me.

I sought advice from the HV, the nursery nurse attached to HV came for a home visit. She told me to ignore it, I found it really hard tbh and was told to walk out of the room. He did grow out of it shortly after not sure if it was that or the fact that his speech came on loads about the same time.

badkitty Sat 01-Oct-11 14:36:30

Thanks purplepj, will have a think if anything would work and pm you- have tried to make things before myself but my sewing skills aren't up to much so has never been v successful!

purplepidjinawoollytangle Sat 01-Oct-11 15:06:42

That's one reason I set up my business - parents of children with SN don't necessarily have the time to learn the skills to do these things wink

You do need to work out why and deal with the behaviour btw. I can only help out with temporary measures! Also, I once worked with a girl who headbanged - caused her to lose her vision and exacerbated her epilepsy. Self-injurious behaviour does need dealing with sad (please don't let that worry you, she's the exception rather the rule!)

BahHumPug Sat 01-Oct-11 15:27:31

Go to your GP and try to get a referral to the appropriate service which will fit and make him a soft helmet. In some areas this is physio, in some it's the OT who co-ordinates it. Most children don't really like these helmets, and therefore it is obviously a last resort but it can work in your favour as a sort of threat. I recommend three stages:

1. A warning to 'stop'.
2. A warning to 'stop or it's your hat.'
3. Put the hat on and try to ignore him.

When he's calm, ask if he's ready to have his hat taken off. If he's kicked off because you've asked him to do something / eat something / move somewhere, make sure he then does this. You need to follow through with all requests which end in headbanging or he will quickly realise it's a behaviour he can use to control you. Children aren't daft. Hopefully with these stages he will begin to stop after the first request to do so.

Also, if he goes to bang his head but stops short or looks at you whilst he's doing it, chances are he's already figured the whole manipulation thing out! In which case, ignore it. If it continues, follow the stages. If it stops, distract him with chatter.

I know it's difficult to ignore, and it is a really potentially damaging thing. That's why it's key to get him some protection and have a clear structure of what to do when he starts. Good luck and PM me if you need any help smile

Spinkle Sat 01-Oct-11 19:04:10

My DS went through this phase too. He has autism. He'd take to headbanging concrete floors when he go cross.

I'm not sure if he was doing because of his lack of language (he had speech delay) or as a sensory this (he has sensory processing problems).

I ignored it, though it was horrible. He eventually stopped when he turned 3.

badkitty Sat 01-Oct-11 19:43:43

That is scary purplepj sad I think I know the cause really - he's 2, he's scared and upset by all the change, he's frustrated because he can't tell us and this is his way of getting it out. Doesn't make it easier to cope with though.

purplepidjinawoollytangle Sat 01-Oct-11 19:58:14

I'm really truly sorry, I didn't mean to scare anyone sad just that in some cases (very very rarely) the need for the self-injurious behaviour is greater than the self-preservation instinct sad

First you need short term strategies to minimise the impact of the behaviour - cushions, cot bumpers, helmets etc.

As soon as that's in place, start on your medium and long term strategies - coping strategies for change, speech support.

I work with a guy in his 40's with CP and occasionally a lady in her 50's. The guy has little speech, she has none. They DO communicate, they CAN make themselves understood - but nothing compares to what could have been had they had decent therapy at your son's age. Do you use sign? Symbols/PECS?

anonandlikeit Sat 01-Oct-11 23:35:25

If its not attention seeking could it be sensory.
Ds2 went through a phase of head rubbing, he would very very roughly rub his head against surfaces. This was before he was able to sit or walk & was rolling around the floor, he had bald patches, carpet burns & scabs.
In the end he had to wear a hat, once he wasnt able to get the same satisfaction from the rubbing he gradualy stopped doing it.

justaboutstillhere Sun 02-Oct-11 20:35:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

justaboutstillhere Sun 02-Oct-11 20:36:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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