Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Emergence of Self Damaging Behavior

Over a year ago as we first discussed my daughter's care the doctors brought up what professionals call "Self-Damaging Behavior". This is just what it sounds like. A child with a disability may begin to hit her head against the wall for an unexplained reason. I've never really hear doctors explain a cause for this kind of thing, and I hadn't paid it much mind yet because my daughter had never shown these tendencies.

But that's starting to change. For a few months my daughter would hit her head with her hand in a rythmic pattern. My wife and I weren't particularly concerned since she wasn't doing it hard enough to hurt herself. We would usually just distract her with a toy or tell her to stop. And that was it for a while. But over the last couple of weeks she's started doing something much more disturbing. My daughter bites her wrist hard enough that she's left red teeth marks on her right arm. She seems to do it when she's frustrated about not being able to reach a toy or because no one has picked her up. My wife and I have tried to watch her closely and stop her immediately, but that hasn't been enough to prevent all kinds of bite marks and inflamation.

Our neighbor who has a four-year-old with another disorder says that her daghter used to scratch herself. It manifested itself at about the same age as my little one is now. Her doctors said that it was due to a need for neurological stimulus that wasn't being met. So this family started giving their daughter massages and warm baths to quell the need. Over the years her need has subsided somewhat, but not completely gone away.

So, I suppose at our house we'll do our best to satisfy that "need" in other ways. We'll be talking with the developmental specialists about it. I wonder if there's some kind of connection with the biting and the way typical children misbehave in other ways to get attention. My wife has noticed that on days that she gives our daughter more attention she bites herself less often. Hopefully, whether behavioral or neurological, we'll be able to improve the situation in some way. Time will tell.

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