Study on Self-injurious Behavior could Identify Early Risk Markers

The Cerebra Center for Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the University of Birmingham is currently conducting research to hopefully identify early risk markers of self-injurious behavior.  They are conducting five complementary studies examining the amount, forms and causes of self-injury in people with autism.

The research team consisting of Caroline Richards, Prof. Chris Oliver and Dr. Debbie Allen are hoping to uncover important information about the size of the problem and knowledge about how to intervene to reduce self-injury.

Self injurious behavior is defined as any behavior, initiated by the individual, which directly results in physical harm to that individual.  Physical harm may include bruising, lacerations, bleeding, bone fractures and breakages, and other tissue damage.

Self injurious behaviors may include head banging (on floors, walls or other surfaces), biting, hair pulling, eye gouging, face or head slapping, skin scratching and forceful head shaking.

The project aims to document the prevalence of self-injury in individuals with ASD, and then contrast this with the prevalence in people who have an intellectual disability and a genetic syndrome.  The researchers aim to determine the behavioral associations of self-injury in order to begin to define the risk markers and also to establish the function of self-injury in a group of children with ASD.  Finally they wish to explore the relationships between self-injury and other behaviors.

Through five complementary studies the researchers will examine behavioral and demographic characteristics associated with self-injurious behavior and the efficacy of self-restraint.