QUESTION: Pinching and Biting Self and Others?


I have a 6-year-boy with an ASD. No verbal communication and he is pinching and biting his arms and legs. There is no clear antecedent to the behavior. It happens at any time, in any place, and with any person. The assessment shows that it is possibly sensory in origin. He will also scratch and pinch others who are working with him. He uses visual schedules, and we have tried a weighted vest, increased proprioceptive activities and chewy tubes. All of this has made very little difference to the behavior, although he tolerated them. We recently tried a huggy vest, which he disliked immensely, so it has been removed. Could you offer any advice?


Self-injurious behaviors can often be very challenging to address. Usually these kids are UNDER-responders who crave intense input that causes a release of endorphins. Your best bet is probably to try to get an endorphin release through other intense forms of sensory input. The things you’ve tried so far are typically for the purpose of calming: proprioceptive input, weighted vest, and chewing tubes. Try alerting types of input instead and see if it helps:

* crashing play such as having him jump from a stool into a crash pad or bean bag, or swinging on a platform swing to “crash” against a mat on the wall, or prone on scooterboard to crash into a pillow pile.
* jumping on a mini-trampoline
* light touch with feathers, etc.
* playing “tag” or chase
* slides
* fast, multidirectional swinging
* prone on scooter board to go down a ramp

Build these types of activities into his schedule to create a sensory diet that provides a steady flow of alerting (green arrow if you are using BrainWorks) input.

It’s also important to remember that while these behaviors are often sensory in nature, we also commonly see them as a result of frustration and/or anxiety. His frustration may be due to inability to communicate. Work closely with the speech therapist to see if there is anything that could enhance his communication.

I hope this helps! Please keep me posted if you find something that works for this child. And let me know if I can be of further help!

Best Wishes,