My son is 6 years old. He has autism and is non-verbal. He has started pinching and hitting which is either after he says "ow" or before "ow". We're guessing he is hurting somewhere and we think it's his tooth. He just had dental surgery to fix everything last December so we don't think it's a cavity but the back molars are starting to come out. But of course, we're not sure. At the same time, he hits both his ears, too (like clapping his ears). We had our family doctor checked him but there's nothing wrong. We are really desperate on how we can stop this behaviour. We have so much bruises and scratches from his pinching. And also hurt that we can see him in pain (or something) because he cries and we don't know what to do. We've given him painkillers and they don't seem to help him. He has some behaviour interventionists working with him but so far, they don't know why. Maybe you have something that you know why this happens and how to stop it.
Have you made note of any triggers? When I get stressed beyond my threshold, I'm prone to biting my arm really hard...if I have no way to escape from the stress.
If it happens, usually it happens if I end up in an argument with a family member and they are attacking me on an emotional level an putting me through lots of stress. Thankfully this doesn't happen often, but it is frustrating for both of us when it does. I don't like to hurt myself, but when I feel extrememly stressed it is a knee-jerk reaction... The pain does at least two things (besides giving an embarrassing bruise). First off it delfects some of that extremem anxety into physical pain. While I'm hurting it distracts me from the emotional pain.
2ndly if I do it in front of the person who is causing the stress, it hopefully shuts them up and makes them stop. That way we can both calm down... If that doesn't work, and the person continues to go on then it intensifies the uncomfortable feeling.
The best I can describe is likely the feeling a wild animal gets when it is suddenly cornered and trhown into a small cage. Without any escape it will likely bang up against the bars hoping to find an escape.
As a child I would also do it sometimes out of intense boredom, and mostly when I was upset and crying over something., It was likely an attempt to stop the emotional stress I felt.
Now days I'm trying to cope better and find alternatives to coping with the stress. I think I've made great progress, but sometimes in an outburst.... I'm trying not to let myself get stressed to the point I get those outbursts, but it is an ongoing process.
MJI, who knows this subject the best, is absolutely correct about the reaction to stress. Also for any kids often negative attention is just as rewarding as positive attention.
Another factor to consider is the non-verbal status. Have you started introducing a few signs? If a child has no to express pain, anger, frustration, etc, they use what they do know - if I hit, mom comes. The "ow" is self-talk, perhaps trying to decide what to do , or perhaps trying to tell himself NOT to do it. Self-talk is not unusual for any child. My son is typical, yet when he was young he used to tell himself not to touch the electrical outlets every time one caught his attention.
Try learning a few basic, necessary signs and introduce them (along with the spoken word) so that he has a way to tell you he's hungry, thirsty, sick, etc.
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