We received a talk the other day at our local branch of the National Autistic Society about Self Injury/Self Harm. It was very interesting and something that a lot of families deal with especially as self injury can be used as a coping mechanism for someone with Autism.
I sat through this talk taking in all of the information and thinking that I hadn't seen any self injury for a while from my son now. He would use head banging as a way to cope and release some frustration now and again when he was younger but we hadn't had an epsisode recently.
Now only a day later my son got very wound up by a certain situation. It's a brother thing, they do tease each other and most of the time I do leave them to it but I do have to intervene and blow the whistle. At this point doors were slammed and I did shout up and said not to slam the doors. I didn't shout but did say it quite forcefully should I say.
I realised along time ago that my son is very sensitive to being told off or confronted about certain things and it is something he finds really difficult. That doesn't mean he gets away with everything but it does mean we had to deal with situations in a different way. I also realised that shouting gets you nowhere and can make things worse. So although ours isn't a shouty house it does contain rules.
I understand how my son feels as I too feel the same sensitivity towards confrontation, arguments and basically being told off. I find it difficult to watch someone argue and shouting makes me anxious. I can't bear to see people fight, which I don't suppose anyone does but it really frightens me. This doesn't come from any past childhood trauma as our house was a happy house, yes it had good family conflicts but hey whose hasn't? Nothing mayor though to give me this kind of sensitivity.
So back to the other day, and a day or so after this espisode I noticed marks on my sons neck, like as if someone had pinched him (love bite or hickey sort of marks). I asked him where these marks had come from and at first he said it was his brother, then it changed to a bully at college had done it. He had told a teacher and everything was sorted so I said to him that I would have to speak to college. He then hesitated and then came a full confession that he had pinched himself as he should have slammed his door and he didn't want to make me cross.
It's awful isn't it to think that they would do this to themselves because of trying to cope with a situation? We have always tried to talk things through but for my son it his hard for him to express himself and deal with some situations. I gave him a big hug and we talked about how important it is firstly to tell the truth about what happened but also that I do have to restore a bit or order to the house without a direct personal attack.
He does take it so personally and I am with him as I do too. Someone can say something and I can take it completely the wrong way......I don't read people very well, I would be hopless up against Simon Cowell.
In these situations it is about finding a different way to cope, yes this physical harm can happen but we have to find other ways of channelling that frustration somewhere else. The trampoline is good for us, I've encouraged a bit of time out on the trampoline or a stress ball. He is going to try and squeeze the stress ball as hard as possible instead of pinching himself so we'll see how that goes. I have other strategies up my sleeve so hopefully we'll find the right one.
Thats how it is though with Autism, it's trying to find that thing that works. What I loved about the other day was we all had a 'group hug' which my younger son won't always do so that was a beautiful moment - I think it was one of those moments that made us all think a bit. My eldest son isn't aggressive with his Autism but he keeps a lot in and therefore instead of letting this emotion come out by throwing things with aggression it presents itself as this.......self injury.
There's me thinking at this talk that it isn't affecting us then it suddenly reared it's head. It just goes to show it's good to attend these talks and be on top of all sorts of topics just in case. There is some information regarding self injurious behaviour on the NAS website here:
Details of the NAS helpline are there too if you do experience any problems regarding this subject.
Thank you for reading today and particulary letting me share this with you. Please join me again tomorrow for Pass the Remote Sunday but for now......
Every Saturday I will be talking about Autism and will review any useful information which may have been highlighted at any support groups in the week.