Large study shows self-injury common among children with autism

About one in four children with autism hit, scratch or otherwise hurt themselves, suggests an analysis of school and medical records for more than 8,000 children in the United States. Children who engage in self-injury tend to have mood and behavioral challenges, as well as cognitive impairment.

The findings, from two related studies, document the prevalence of self-injury among children with autism in a large, diverse population1,2. Previous studies were small, and often limited to individuals with autism who also have serious behavioral problems.

“Self-injurious behavior is not something that is rare in children with autism,” says Gnakub Norbert Soke, who led both studies at the University of Colorado in Aurora.

The results underscore the urgency of better understanding and developing treatments for self-injury, which can lead to hospitalization or even death, Soke says. The findings appeared in November in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

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4th January 2017