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Self Injury Behavior -- Cutting

My son likes to cut himself with sharp objects like razors, knives, and scissors. Why does he do this and how can I get him to stop?

My Opinion:
I think kids will do this behavior for one or more of three reasons -- sensory, attention-getting, or as punishment.

Sensory -- it feels good to the child. For this reason, you might want to try to find other things for your son to do that would also meet his needs here. I have heard about brushing, but I don't know much about it. Or heavy pressure, or something else that he might enjoy instead of cutting. Also, gluten/casein issues can cause a opioid-type "high" in some children, increasing or modifying their pain perception. You might want to check out the site for that diet, www.gfcfdiet.com. Also, I do not like recommending drugs until all other options are considered, but I will say that it would seem to me, that if your son *enjoys* the cutting as you indicate he does, and these other options do not work for you, that if he is allowed to continue, it may become addictive in a way for him, and he will need more and more to get the same feeling. That would obviously NOT be a good thing. Therefore, I did find this paper, which is written by a respected autism researcher and describes the use of Naltrexone, that gives you much information so you can make an informed decision.


Attention-getting -- the child desires the attention it brings. Is there some change in your son's schooling or other experiences that he is having, where he perceives that he is not getting the attention he desires? He may perceive your (and perhaps also his teacher's) negative attention as better than the too-little attention that he perceives he is getting.

Punishment -- the child desires punishment for some perceived reason. This would be because other kids, teachers, other people, are treating your child badly and he believes he somehow deserves it. Or he has been trying to fit in but can't, and is frustrated and angry that he can't and he is treated badly, so he is taking it out on himself. Other kids would take it out on others, it would depend on the child.

Also, please make sure your son's teachers are aware of this situation, so he is watched at school and not allowed to do this. He will try to find ways to do it when he perceives that no one is watching, and school is a good place for that because there are many distractions for the teachers to not be watching him.

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