Study Aims and Objectives
To identify characteristics that may be seen more often in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who purposely hurt themselves (self-injurious behaviors).
Methods - Sample, Procedure, Study Measures, Analysis
Researchers analyzed data from two different sources of information about children with ASD. The first sample was made up of 8065 8-year olds. The second sample included 5102 children ages 2 to 18 years. Researchers looked at the children’s medical or school records in the first sample. They examined information from parents’ interviews and children’s evaluations notes in the second sample. Researchers investigated whether lower IQ, sleep problems, behavior issues, or other characteristics were more common in children who hurt themselves on purpose.
Results – Main Finding(s)
Children with ASD who have poor communication skills, a history of aggression, hyperactivity or anxiety, and sleep or other problems were more likely to hurt themselves on purpose. There was no relationship found between self-harm and a child’s sex, race, or IQ.
Conclusion – Summary Statement
Both large databases showed similar results. The study cannot prove that these characteristics are causing self-injurious behaviors. However, finding similar results in two different datasets strengthens the evidence about these relationships. It is possible that children with ASD who struggle to communicate with others, or who have behavioral or other problems, express their problems by purposely hurting themselves. Clinicians should consider thoroughly evaluating children with ASD who purposely hurt themselves to identify and treat conditions like the ones reported here.