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Self-Injurious Behavior

  • By: Rowland P. Barrett
  • In: Encyclopedia of School Psychology
  • Edited by: Steven W. Lee
  • Subject:School/Educational Psychology (general), School Psychology, Educational Psychology

Self-injurious behavior is among the most perplexing and serious forms of psychopathology in children with developmental disabilities. It is defined as the repetitive and deliberate infliction of harm to one's own body (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). Common forms of self-injury include self-biting; selfpunching; and repetitive banging of the head and limbs against solid, unforgiving surfaces such as walls, tables and floors. Less common forms of self-injury include repeatedly dislocating and relocating joints; eye gouging; pulling out one's own hair, teeth, or fingernails; pica, and self-mutilation of the genitals and rectum. Self-injurious behavior affects 8% to 14% of the child population with autism and/or mental retardation. The vast majority of these children are nonverbal with IQs below 50. Fortunately, most children with self-injurious behavior respond favorably ...

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