father consoling teenage son
Charu Ramanathan

Strategies to Help Kids with Self-Harm and Aggressive Behaviors

The Covid Saga continues and the possibility of sending our kids to schools or other centers outside the home is still unclear. Many of us have seen our carefully organized support systems and schedules for our autistic children completely fall apart. It has been hard on us parents for sure, but it certainly has been hard on the children, with self injurious behaviors and aggression on the rise.

A recent conversation between parents of teenage boys that were experiencing such behaviors had a lot of great strategies. We are sharing them here to help those who are in similar situations.

IDENTIFYING TRIGGERS:

Many times there may be an internal trigger like pain or discomfort or a seizure onset that triggers the behaviors especially in non-verbal children. Try to identify and eliminate this with the help of a journal to note down the sequence of events and discussing with your doctor / therapist.

MEDS:

If you are comfortable with this option, consider exploring the possibility of new medications with your doctor rather than just increasing dose of existing meds. A mom of a teenage boy found great results in prescription Seroquel (an anti-psychotic) on top of anti-anxiety meds he was already on.

PROTECTING YOURSELF AND FEEDBACK

A large exercise ball can serve as boundary to protect yourself as your child is going through an aggression episode.

Any kind of prioreception feedback could be important for self-regulation.

https://blog.brainbalancecenters.com/2015/08/proprioception-explained

PROTECTING THE CHILD:

Use joint pads, helmets to the extent your child will you, to protect them. Such items could be covered in your Waiver if you have one.

FINDING SUPPORT:

There may be affordable classes you could take at your county’s educational center or community college to help you plan and anticipate situations and triggers that could lead to aggression. Discuss with your local Disability Services, BCBA, SSA to provide resources to create a ‘hurt-proof’ safe environment in your home.

As always, reach out to your community for support. You can now post anonymously for further protection of privacy. This is a judgement free space. We are all in this together.

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