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What to do to stop autistic child from banging head?

My son is 7yo nonverbal autistic. Often times he wakes up in the middle of the night (typically from 2:00am to 4:00am) screaming, kicking and banging the back of his head on the wall. The duration of his fits lasts from 1 to 4 hours. After all the screaming, kicking and headbanging, he eventually becomes exhausted and passes out. He is at the age where it is getting dangerous for us to try to protect him. When holding him during his fits, he swings his head back with so much force, he could break my chin or nose. Nothing we try works to calm him down. I am worried that he may one day crack his skull. What do we do?
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What do you think about benzodiazapenes? Will they help?
No. Those are scheduled substances as in they are addictive and you build tolerance. They wouldn't give that to a young child for head banging. You are wanting to drug your child and you need to work with a doctor for behavior interventions rather than drugs and such things. They may suggest a medication that helps sleep but would be afraid that you'd use too much to silence your child to be honest so am not going to tell you what it is at this point.  I know it is hard but want your child to be safe.
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Avatar universal
It sounds incredibly challenging. Have you tried consulting with a professional or therapist who specializes in working with neurodivergent individuals? They might be able to offer some helpful strategies or insights.
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Also, you might find some useful information on neuroatypical behaviors and mental health https://fherehab.com/learning/neuroatypical-neurodivergent-mental-health . Hang in there, and I hope you find the support and solutions you need.
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What do you think about ozone therapy?
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After 3 sessions of ozone and ubi therapy, no improvement. When my son throws a fit, he  is now biting his arms until they bleed.
It sounds like you have many professionals helping you. You are primarily at this point looking for a way for your child to sleep, correct? You will have to monitor and deal with things during the day your autistic child does but at night, if all are sleeping, it's going to help during the day. Autistic kids notoriously have a hard time sleeping. My own son uses melatonin and has for years to help. There are other things. My son is older and you would need to work with your doctor. What could be utilized here. You worry me a bit as you sound so distraught that I'd hate for you to give 'too much' to your child and harm them. So, you need to follow directions explicitly from your doctor. There is NO WAY that a low dose of something like seroquel would not put your child to sleep. It can knock out a grown man at a low dose (lower doses have a sleep effect that diminishes as you go up in dose). If you tried an antipsychotic for sleep and behavior with a toddler, it's off label and perhaps you had the wrong dose. I'd work with your doctor and ask for something that is specifically sedating for night time.
Avatar universal
What do you think about nitrous oxide? Do you think nitrous oxide would work to calm my son down when he throws a fit in the middle of the night?
Helpful - 0
This would not be recommended nor safe for a calming agent for children. Please speak to your doctor.
I spoke to my doctor. He prescribed antipsychotics. They did not help at all. My son is now biting his arms every time he throws a fit. He bites his arms until they are black and blue, even bleeding at times. Arm gloves don't seem to help. He bites through them or takes them off.
973741 tn?1342342773
Hello and welcome. This must be very hard on you AND him. Does he have any alternate way of communicating? Could you offer an alternative for him to do? Do you use story cards to help with direction or 'go to' things for him? Do you work with an occupational therapist at all? What time does he go to bed?
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He does not talk, sign, or use any form of communication such as cards or drawing on a board. He can write his name on a board but that is about it. Last night he went to sleep at around 9:00pm which is typical. He woke up screaming and throwing his head back at around 1:40am today and as of 2:10am, he is still screaming. He will probably be screaming for another hour.
He does not do ABA therapy or OT. We tried them but he can't stand that stuff and throws tantrums.
Since nobody seems to know what to do, what do you think about cannabis oil?
It doesn't work. Doctors recommend against it especially for kids with developing brains. OT is beloved by almost all kids because the OT"s do it through play and adjust to the kids. Sure you've really tried that? It might be worth revisiting. Reasons why he head bangs. One, he's actually getting sensory input. Banging, crashing, etc. is used this way for some kids. The key then is to introduce other methods that are better for getting it. I have suggestions for that if you want them. (received FROM an OT). Second reason is frustration and limited verbal ability to communicate it. Then you use cards with pictures or help him with the words to use. We described things in terms of weather from a book we read, for example. Storm clouds, sad. Tornado, losing control. lightening, flash of anger. Etc. Try to help them communicate and the it is on you to work really hard to calm them.

This is a common thing that autistic kids do and things like cbd oil wouldn't be an appropriate application. It's not an illness. They have a need, you have to figure out how to meet it.
https://raisingchildren.net.au/autism/therapies-guide/pecs  A good way to help a non verbal autistic child communicate.
So you are saying when my son wakes up at 2:00am screaming, kicking, biting and slamming his head against the wall as hard as he can (btw we have padded walls), you are saying we should show him pictures. OK, is that before he cracks his skull or after?
No, that's not what I'm saying but he may be trying to communicate with you. During other times, begin working with PECS. And try with a different occupational therapist. Autistics bang heads in order to self soothe, communicate a need or as the result of anxiety. While not ideal, autism doctors will tell you that oh so rarely does a child do actual damage from headbanging. They say to first rule out other issues that are physical causing pain like stomach issues (common in autistic kids/adults), ear infections, etc. Does he have adhd as a secondary diagnosis? Is he verbal at all? But they will likely try to have you identify the cause. There always is one. It's not just a thing autistic kids do.They do it for specific reasons.
I see that he is non verbal from your original post, so scratch that question. Does he have calm periods during the day you could start working on some communication tools?
by the way, I'm not trying to aggravate you. I have a neurodivergent son as well and know all the complexities. I'm not sure where you live, what part of the world. I know that it can be quite challenging to deal with and when the child is non verbal, we can feel utterly lost. I know you are trying to help your child.
Thank you for your responses. It has been a really tough week. My son usually is fine during the day. He goes to special needs school and usually makes it through the day, but sometimes we have to pick him up early if he has a fit. He can communicate a little, but when he throws a fit, what little communication he has is gone.
I have to agree with specialmom, there are way to communicate with your son, but it will take time and a lot work to to a point where you would like him to be. I have a grandson that is now 9 and for the last 7 years he would bite, pinch, and  scream because he was non-verbal. What I did is taught him basic sign language and the picture icons. Which Specialmom is talking about, and I know you think it might not work but I am her to tell you …. They use these icon word pics in the schools and my grandson knows over 250 words now because of these icon he know what Quiet Voice means, ready hands, I am sad etc….. just look at the iPad and iPhones same concept. Hope this helps. Get you son into a program that teach sign language and you learn it too. You life and his life will never be the same!:)
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