Autism & Asperger's Syndrome Expert Forum
Pull out hair
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Pull out hair

My 10 year old daughter has Autism but for the last serveral months she has been pulling out her eye lashes.  He doctor changed her medication but It hasn't helped.  Why would she pull out her eye lashes?
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Hi Cindy,

Many individuals diagnosed with Autism (and other developmental disorders) engage in problematic and self-injurious behavior, including hair-pulling (trichotillomania).  But trichotillomania isn’t restricted to individuals with developmental delays – many typically-developing people also pull their own hair. So I’d be cautious about looking at the behavior as a feature of her Autism.

It is possible that she is pulling her hair to access some type of social reaction (attention from caregivers or avoidance of some undesired activity) but it’s also possible that it produces some sensory reaction that is itself reinforcing. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to provide a real explanation as to why she’s doing it without examining the conditions surrounding the hair pulling.  If you haven’t already, I would suggest that you talk to your pediatrician to rule out any medical conditions (perhaps she has some eye itching or discomfort?), and then contact a certified Behavior Analyst for further help on why she does it and how to best intervene.  The website below includes a directory of Behavior Analysts who may be able to help you.

http://www.bacb.com/consum_frame.html

Best of luck to you,

Jessica
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There is a name for this behaviour, it is called trichotillomania.  Google it to learn about it, and then try to relate it back to the autism to see what could be causing it.  Eg. how is school going, is she about to move school?  Does she show alot of anxiety or stress?
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