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Head banging and now hitting himself in the head and face, best way to deal...

(14 Posts)
hazeyjane Sun 04-Nov-12 20:07:32

Ds has been banging his head against the floor, door, chair, wall etc. He sometimes does it when he is frustrated and cross, but sometimes he just does it with a kind of blissed out look on his face.

I started a thread about the head banging on here, and have started doing things that were suggested. Ignore, putting a cushion under head, saying a firm 'no banging' and also encouraging sensory input by wrapping him up, squooshing him etc (he loves this)

Recently he has started hitting himself in the face and head, he does it over and over and quite hard. My instinct is to stop him, and wrap him up so he can't hurt himself - does this seem right?

HotheadPaisan Sun 04-Nov-12 20:12:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hazeyjane Sun 04-Nov-12 20:19:40

Do you think it was a reaction to a sort of sensory overload, Hothead? Ds seems to do it more if there is lots of noise, he seems overwhelmed and looks like he is trying to knock something out of his head.

waitingforgodot Sun 04-Nov-12 20:30:48

My ds used to do this too. Def sounds like a sensory issue. Not sure if coincidence but it stopped when we put him on gluten free diet

HotheadPaisan Sun 04-Nov-12 20:34:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Firsttimer7259 Sun 04-Nov-12 20:37:13

I dont really know but my girl does this too. Some is frustration some sensory seeking. I do stop her. But try to do pillow fights/face planting with her too, not at that point in time but over the day.. She also loves motion and we try to do lots of rocknig, swinging etc in general. I dont let her hurt herself but try to do it in a non-dramatic way, she bites her arm too when she is upset(to the point of bruising), I give her a cloth to bite instead and do that when she's doing the biting which seems to be a way of coping with upset.

SallyBear Sun 04-Nov-12 20:39:17

DS4 would kneel on the floor, shake his head from side to side, moan and grind his teeth. All at the same time! Definitely a sensory thing with him. Was much worse when tired, which was practically all the time Hazeyjane! He now only shakes his head and moans when stressed or ill now. The chiropractor helped the sleep, which then helped the grinding teeth, moaning and head shaking!
I think that you will need to put him somewhere safe if possible when he does this. Is his sleep very bad at the minute? Do you think that maybe he is having a headache, and trying to relieve it? If his sleep is bad, does he snore at all? Too much co2 in the blood stream causes headaches. It's something that you will need to get to the bottom of it all in order to help stop him from doing this. Very upsetting for you. sad

hazeyjane Sun 04-Nov-12 21:40:10


I know what you mean about ignoring it, Hothead. I think when i forst saw him doing it, I assumed it was a tantrum, and remembered the advice when the girls had similar tantrums. But I can see that this is different, and he just looks as though he can't make sense of what is going on, so i just want to make sure he feels safe.

He is always tired, sallybear! At the moment his sleep isn't too bad, he isn't snoring much (he does sometimes snore, and grunt a lot, but not atm) and he still has a long nap in the day, sometimes two. But you can see when he is tired, he seems to just droop before our eyes, and just wants to curl up. I remember you saying about the chiropractor - I will do a search, it's a particular type isn't it?

FirstTimer, yes ds loves to bite down on things, I have a chewigem necklace, that he loves biting on, really hard. Strangely dd1 is also a chewer/biter - she has a rag she chews on, and all her sleeves have holes in from chewing. I am also a biter, I did it when I was young (my dsis still has the scarsblush) and now I have a real problem with clenching my jaw, and grinding my teeth (bruxism), I wear a guard at night, but still do it during the day, it was worse when I was pregnant, and in my last pregnancy I managed to crack a tooth in half by clenching my teeth so badly!

SallyBear Sun 04-Nov-12 22:06:15

Hazeyjane we used a McTimoney Chiropractor in Stratford on Avon. Dev9aug used her on my recommendation and they felt that it has helped their DS. Anyway, I have linked a list of recommended therapists for you to look at. smile

hazeyjane Sun 04-Nov-12 22:15:24

Thankyou, sallybear. There is a lady I know on there who lives just around the corner, she is listed as a paediatric chiropractor! I will call her and have a chat.

SallyBear Sun 04-Nov-12 22:31:24

Serendipity. smile

AgnesDiPesto Sun 04-Nov-12 22:40:10

well we do ABA and taken the behavioural route and these behaviours have drastically reduced and the harmful ones eliminated.

I don't feel I can really advise how to do it in a post, its been built up over a long time with expert help as part of a behaviour plan - now when he starts a new stim which is physical we are at the point where we can just say its not cool and he will pretty much stop himself

In effect he was rewarded for positive things which are incompatible with the behaviour eg keeping his hands still.

I think you would need specialist ABA support to get to the point we are at. I suppose I just wanted to say for some children this is behavioural not purely a sensory need - DS is happier not doing this - I don't see it as something he needs to do, more as an inappropriate way of displaying / communicating frustration and we have taught him more appropriate ways eg asking for help, telling someone to stop doing something and giving him rewards for not doing it.

I suppose I just wanted to say there is an alternative to the OT route. DS has no OT but his self harming behaviours are almost gone / very rare with ABA approach.

bialystockandbloom Sun 04-Nov-12 22:57:12

I would add to agnes's post that, using an ABA approach, it might be worth trying to delve deeper into working out why he does it, and when.

Eg if it's boredom; anger; communication; stim etc.

In effect he was rewarded for positive things which are incompatible with the behaviour

As agnes says ^ there, we have redirected a stim into something more productive and functional, then rewarded like crazy. If the stim is to satisfy sensory need (ie sensory-seeking) you don't have to deprive them of a physically satisfying activity, but could try redirecting into something less harmful, and more under your control. The key thing imo is whether the activity is a) harmful/destructive, and b) interferes with normal functioning. This sounds like it is both.

In my ds's case he could spend ages running and hurling himself into the sofa, often out of boredom in the hour after supper / before bed. We now say he can either hurl himself around upstairs in his room, or stay downstairs with me but can do something else (play game, writing, reading etc). Or I give him 5 minutes of bouncing on sofa but only when holding my hands. He loves this, and once it's over he completely calms down.

But first you would have to try and work out the function of the head-banging.

And if you don't want to go down the behavioural route then perhaps this isn't for you. But thought I'd post anyway in case some of it was useful.

hazeyjane Mon 05-Nov-12 12:38:27

Thankyou, very interesting about ABA, I don't really know much about it so will do some research, although at the moment I don't think ds would understand the 'positive reward' element of the approach.

Ds's paediatrician has suggested ds be referred to a learning disability nursing team, through his sn nursery. I spoke to the manageress of the nursery this morning about it, and she said we need to look at the reasons behind it - is it: self injurious, fulfilling a sensory need or frustration. I think I have seen him do it for all 3 of those reasons, so I'm not sure where that leaves us!

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