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What the AUTISM?! - Amanda Kim EPISODE 12, 24th February 2021
Prevalence of Self-Injurious Behaviors
00:00:00 00:06:00

Prevalence of Self-Injurious Behaviors

Intro: Welcome back to another episode on “What the AUTISM?!” This podcast is for anyone who is struggling with understanding what autism is and how we can better empower our autism community through research proven methods. In each episode, I will be sharing with you ground-breaking research and how the diagnosis of autism can often be misunderstood. If you are a new listener to our podcast, I highly recommend you start from episode 1 to catch you up to speed on various terminology and concepts! Now let’s get started…

Research Article: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5392775/ 

In the research study we’ll be reviewing today, we’ll be talking about self injurious behaviors and exactly how prevalent this behavior is within children with autism. In 2017, a handful of researchers conducted a population-based study that reviewed a large sample of children with autism to gauge exactly how prevalent Self-injurious behaviors are within the autism population. 

Self-injurious behaviors (SIB) are quite diverse in its appearance. Common types of SIB in ASD include-head banging, hair pulling, arm biting, eye poking, and skin scratching. Often times these types of behaviors are established because of a child’s inability to communicate their thoughts and emotions. They have learned that when they engage in self injurious behaviors, they get an immediate response from their caretakers, which eventually leads them to what they want, whether that may be attention, release of built up frustration, and/or access to a particular food/object/person. Regardless of the function of the behavior, self injurious behaviors create a huge health and safety concern for families, schools, and within community members. As always, I’ll be including the research article on our Facebook page for you to follow along. The research article shows a table that breaks down the findings from this study to help you better understand the results of what these researchers found.

Analyzing the findings of this research study, they found that the prevalence of SIB in a population-based study of ASD averaged 27.7 % over three surveillance years. Due to various limitations and sampling differences in this study, there are speculations that this 27.7% may be an under estimation of the prevalence rate of self injurious behaviors amongst children with ASD. However, regardless, these results suggest that self injurious behaviors within ASD are common and deserve more clinical and research attention in order to further advance the level of awareness and treatment strategies. 

This study revealed that SIB are a common phenotypic characteristic among children with ASD and that its prevalence is higher than has been reported in children with other developmental disabilities. SIB are dangerous behaviors but it’s also important to note the amount of impact that it carries within the immediate family and community circles. SIB deserve more clinical and research attention but of course, this requires time, effort, and financial means. In conclusion, SIB in ASD is an important public health concern that affects many children. Future research is warranted to better understand its potential risk factors and consequences, in order to develop effective and more targeted treatment strategies.

Does your child exhibit SIB or SIB-like behaviors? Does your child struggle in communicating their thoughts, feelings, wants and needs? This may some times result in them hitting their head or banging their head against the wall. Some parents I have worked with in the past have also reported that their child at 18 months used to cry and repeatedly bang their head against the pillow or against their parents’ stomachs. Now, although this doesn’t warrant huge safety/health risks as the pillows and stomachs have cushion, but how will these behaviors manifest as the child gets older and further behavioral patterns are established? Self injurious behaviors raise public health and safety concerns that impact not only the child that exhibits the behaviors, but also the family and community members around them. 

For children that are more impacted in their autism diagnosis and show signs of self injurious behaviors, treatment is extremely important. Self injurious behaviors are NOT typical. Any signs that your child is beginning to engage in these types of behaviors warrants you to seek out professional help immediately. In previous episodes, I talk about ABA and its effectiveness in helping those impacted by the autism diagnosis to better communicate and navigate the world around them. However, whether you decide to get your child ABA treatment or not, what’s most important is that your child receives a confirmed diagnosis by a psychologist or doctor, you seek out the appropriate specialists for recommendations, and you remain vigilant about your child coming into contact with research-backed treatment. But if you have any questions from today’s episode in regards to your child or about the research study reviewed, feel free to email us at whattheautismpodcast@gmail.com

Ending: But this concludes another episode here at "What the AUTISM?!" If you have any specific questions or concerns you’d like me to cover, please reach out to us through any platform. Our facebook page and instagram handle is @whattheautism and our email address is whattheautismpodcast@gmail.com. We upload a new episode on your favorite podcast platform every Wednesday. Please note that this podcast has been created to discuss my personal experiences and opinions and is not a means of medical or psychological recommendations. 

But if you enjoyed this podcast, please make sure to follow and subscribe to our podcast channel and I’ll see you in episode 13.