Autism and Head banging: Tips and Foods to manage it

Does your child hit themself in the head when they are anxious? Is your child hitting their head against the wall, the floor, or the bed? Head banging appears to be one of the most prevalent acts of self-harm that many children with autism may engage in. Every parent finds it distressing to see their children harming themselves. Keep reading to understand why kids engage in head banging and some effective tips and foods to manage head banging in children. 

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What is Head banging?

Head banging is the most common sign of autism. According to studies, about 30% of autistic children harm themself by engaging in activities like head banging, skin picking, hair pulling, scratching, biting etc. Head banging is the means of expressing demands and self-soothing activity. Some kids may get rid of this before starting school but others could continue this act for years. This is not only bad for your youngster, but it’s also concerning for the parents and people nearby. 

Also check, Autism and Behavioural issues

Why do kids engage in head banging?

Children may engage in head banging because of various reasons. Here are some main causes of head banging:

  • Sensory processing issues
  • Attention seeking behaviour
  • Pain
  • Frustration
Sensory processing issues

Head banging results from either a sensory deficit or a sensory overload. Children can be sensitive to light, touch, texture, smell and colour of the food. A child may engage in head banging to stimulate their sensory system. Kids will feel better as a result of this. 

Also check, Sensory sensitivity in kids

Attention seeking behaviour

Occasionally, kids may use hand banging to seek their parent’s attention. As a result, they might repeat this every time they need your help so you can get to them right away.

Frustration

Head banging can also occur when a youngster is experiencing a tantrum or extremely powerful emotions because they find it difficult to express their thoughts verbally and instead turn to physical activities.

Also check, Cognitive behavioural therapy for kids

Pain

Although it might sound strange, head banging is frequently used to relieve pain. This is due to the fact that it serves as a diversion from the pain and discomfort. Furthermore, research demonstrates that self-harming activity boosts endorphin production, which gives anesthesia-like effect and the youngster does not sense pain during head-banging.

Risks associated with head banging

Head banging can rarely have an impact on kids below the age of 3. However, as they get older, there is a greater chance of experiencing permanent harm. Early interventions and behavioural therapies can help to reduce self-harming behaviours.

Also check, Tips to manage sensory overload in kids

Tips to manage head banging in children

1. FIND OUT WHAT IS THE TRIGGER:

Knowing what sets off your child’s tantrums can make it easier for you to diffuse the situation immediately. Is your kid hungry? Are they worn out? Try to address the issue once you’ve identified it. This is a useful technique for averting meltdowns and head banging as well.

Also check, How to manage tantrums in kids?

2. Sensory activities

You can use the following tactics if you’ve concluded that your child’s head banging is mostly caused by sensory processing issues.

For understimulated kids:

  • The vestibular system is stimulated by sensory swings, rocking, jumping on a trampoline.
  • Weighted blanket and stuffed animals can help to calm kids

For overstimulated kids:

  • Noise cancellation headphones
  • Let your kid play with clay, slime or play sand
  • Sensory bins

Also check, Sensory activities for kids

3. Create a safe environment 
  • Provide them with secure alternates like pile of soft pillows, bed etc
  • Make your kid to wear helmet
  • If your youngster frequently bangs their head on a specific place, make soft padding there.
4. Take it slow and be patient

Here are some steps you can take while your kid is angry or frustrated:

  • Count from 1 to 20
  • Advise them to breathe deeply when experiencing strong emotions.
  • To discuss safety techniques, read social stories.

It is not easy to teach children new ways to cope up with anger and it takes time. Keep repeating and practising things. Take it slow and work on one behaviour at a time. Observe the changes and reward them. 

Also check, Tips to manage anger in kids

5. Give the required attention 
  • Make sure your child receives required attention when they are not banging their heads.
  • Avoid scolding or punishing the child for hitting his head because  can make matters worse.
  • Try not to highlight the behaviour too much because doing so can encourage it.

Also check, Focus and Attention building games for kids

Foods to manage head banging in kids 

1.NUTS:

All nuts, including almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, and hazelnuts, are high in vitamin E and aid in memory enhancement. They are also antioxidants that protect cells from damage. Walnuts are high in omega 3 fatty acids and are beneficial to sensory sensitivity, brain function, memory, and cognitive abilities. This fatty acid is also beneficial to cognitive functions.

 Also check, Best nuts for protein

2.SEEDS:

Aside from nuts, seeds such as flax, chia, melon, sesame, and pumpkins contain potent antioxidants such as vitamin E, which protect the brain from free radical damage. Sunflower seeds have an effect on overall mood and mental processing abilities, so they are regarded as a brain-boosting snack. Pumpkin seeds contain more magnesium, copper, and zinc than other seeds, which aid in eye contact, concentration, and memory. One of the simplest brain-boosting foods for children to consume.

Also check, Benefits of pumpkin seeds

3.ASHWAGANDHA:

It is a small woody plant native to India and North Africa. Ashwagandha has a strong affinity for GABA receptors. As a result, Ashwagandha can be used to treat Autism symptoms such as sensory issues, memory loss, anxiety, and attention deficit.

Also check, More benefits of Ashwagandha

4.BRAHMI:

Brahmi is a brain superfood that is believed to sharpen the brain by protecting cells and increasing chemicals involved in learning and memory. It acts on the CNS, where it improves grasping power, eye contact, memory, intellect, and speech, as well as correcting sensory sensitivity, emotional, mood, and personality aberrations in an individual.

Also check, More benefits of Brahmi

5.SHANKHAPUSHPI:

In order to improve brain functioning, shankhapushpi is an old remedy. The powerful antioxidants and flavonoids present in it improve the memory capacity, focus, concentration, calmness, alertness of an individual. Since it is a brain tonic and stimulator, people taking shankhapushpi have improved autism features like sensory issues, memory, reasoning, problem-solving, and other cognitive abilities.

Also check, Herbs that help to manage brain fog

6.OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS:

There is a link between omega 3 fatty acids and early childhood brain development, according to research. These healthy fats have incredible brain-boosting properties, additionally play an important role in improving autism features like sensory sensitivity, memory, and attention span. Fish and walnuts are excellent sources of omega 3.

Also check, Why is Omega 3 important for your kids?

7.MAGNESIUM:

Magnesium is responsible for nerve transmission and nerve-muscle coordination in our bodies. In other words, it guards against a child’s excessive excitement (which can be traumatic). It also increases the effectiveness of vitamin B, which is important in the production of enzymes required by the brain. It  may improve sensory sensitivity and reduce behavioral issues.

Also check, What are some disorders in which magnesium can help?

8. ZINC: 

Zinc is a mineral that our bodies require in trace amounts. Because our bodies do not store zinc, we must consume small amounts of it on a regular basis to maintain our health. It is required for proper brain development and function, immune function, protein synthesis, and wound healing.

Also check, How can zinc help with hair and skin health?


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