Repetitive hand movements
(Abu Dhabi UAE)
My son has autism spectrum disorder. He repeatedly strikes over his chin and teeth. He uses his one/ or both hands(fingers) and any metal or plastic object for this purpose.
These movements are more vigorous when he is angry and playing and slower and more gentle while coloring and writing.
Please guide us how to get rid of these.
Before I give you some ideas, I am wondering a few things... some further information would be helpful to me.
Is your son currently in Occupational Therapy? If yes... how often? Privately or in school? What activities do they do with him, what skills or behaviors are they working on? Are they specifically addressing his sensory needs? If so, what in particular, and how? Has he always exhibited this behavior? Has anything been done to address it in the past? Has he/did he show any improvement at any point? Has it gotten worse over time? How old is he? Is he a sensory seeker or avoider, or both?
The reason I ask all of these questions is that the answers will help me better understand why he may be doing this behavior, who can help him and how - specifically.
What he is doing are self-stimulating behaviors. These are a frequent "coping" mechanism
for many individuals with Autism. They can swerve multiple purposes. Most commonly they are a way of seeking proprioceptive, tactile, vestibular, visual, oral, or auditory input. The self-stimulating behavior is done as a way of calming and regulating his nervous system. In your son's case, it may be a combination of several senses that he is trying to satisfy a craving for. As he does the "striking" behavior, he is soothed. For a more in-depth explanation, please read... Hair Pulling And Other Self-Stimulating Behaviors
, by Michelle Morris.
The best things you can do to address this and to decrease the frequency or intensity, is to address the underlying sensory issues. This will be done through:
- a good sensory based Occupational Therapy treatment program (usually done privately vs. school based)
- following a consistent, well planned, individualized sensory diet
which includes a lot of proprioceptive and heavy work activities
- talk to his OT (if he has one... I hope he does) about trying a weighted vest or wrist weights to give him some additional calming proprioceptive feedback.
- oral/facial input, feedback, massage (see oral motor section on treatment activities
Start with these suggestions and information. Then, I can hopefully help you further if you answer my multitude ;0) of questions.
Take good care.