Self-injurious behavior, displayed by individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and mental retardation, involves behavior that results in physical injury to one’s own body. Common forms of self-injurious behavior include:
In the most severe cases, self-injurious behavior can result in retinal detachment, blindness, broken bones, bleeding or death. Self-injurious behavior also is associated with ASDs and othergenetic disorders, such as Lesch-Nyhan and Rett syndromes.
Individuals engage in self-injurious behavior for a variety of reasons. In some cases, self-injurious behavior occurs because it results in favorable outcomes, such as attention from caregivers or the termination of academic or instructional demands. Self-injurious behavior also may be biologically based. For example, some research has suggested that self-injurious behavior results in the release of chemicals in the brain that produce pleasurable effects.
Although there is considerable evidence to support of all of these explanations, current thought indicates that self-injurious behavior is a highly complex, heterogeneous phenomenon that is often attributable to a combination of factors.
Behavior Treatment Clinics
Association for Behavior Analysis
The Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy
American Psychological Association
Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
National Head Start Association
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
National Academy Press
National Institute of Mental Health
Max Brewer was diagnosed with a mild form of autism when he was 3. His older brother, Arthur, also has autism and completed the Marcus Autism Center Early Intervention Program. “We had seen such great progress with Arthur, so we knew that we needed to start Max in the program, too,” Max’s mother, Therese, said.
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