Diagnosis awaiting with no support..

My son is 7, he is the most beautiful , kindest little boy I know .. we have been waiting for a diagnosis for such a long time and I really need support, maybe advice would help me not feel so alone..

among many things he has a tendency to let situations wether this be social or just general things frustrate him , so I’m new to the whole autism traits thing but he self harms , he will scratch his face till it bleeds and rock back and forth, I’m not really sure why this happens , google isn’t the most reliable source and wondered if anyone had any advice for me to help him stop or try and find alternatives to help him .. it makes me so upset for him because I can’t imagine how it feels to be him , but after it happens he doesn’t really show any thought for the pain it may cause himself.. he has quite a few scars from where he has done it in the past , he does it with fingernails only .. I mean does anyone have any experience in this .. the help we ask for is just school putting him on his own to calm down, which I don’t think makes it better. Hoping someone here can shed some light .. desperate mum !

  • Hi

    The scratching and rocking are stimming. Self regulation when everything gets to much. 

    Try to look for triggers, like what happened beforehand is there a pattern or something he is really struggling with? Have you tried introducing a safe space with sensory toys so when he starts to feel overwhelmed he can get the sensory release without hurting himself.

    We started using a visual scale for emotions with our daughter as she struggles to identify the smaller ones like frustration and jumps straight to anger, being able to see the scale has kind of put what she feels into something she can see and understand. 

    We also looked at her behaviour before a meltdown and noticed several very small tells so most of the time we can see it coming and can give her options to calm herself. 

    This helped massively during the day, night time is still a work in progress! 

  • Hi, I imagine that it’s quiet bewildering waiting for a diagnosis for your son and not understanding how to best help him? He will get frustrated, with social situations, it’s very confusing and overwhelming for an Autistic child to not instinctively know how to interact effectively with peers etc. Those other people can sometimes react negatively which further fuels the frustration. I remember myself always trying to talk with the other children at primary school and never understanding why or how I managed to annoy them! As someone else said the rocking and scratching is stimming, he’s using it to self regulate and calm himself down when he’s feeling overwhelmed. Unfortunately, destructive stims are not uncommon in autism, I pulled my own hair out for years from the age of 8, because it was an effective way for me to self sooth. I know though that it can be distressing to see your child engaging in this type of behaviour as my youngest daughter who’s 2 has been hair pulling for over a year now and even though I understand why she does it, I still always try to stop her. I’ve also scratched up my own face before in the middle of a meltdown. I do feel though that it would be helpful, for your own reassurance and peace of mind to speak to someone on the helpline here as they might be able to offer further insight into the reasons for your son’s behaviour and perhaps help you with symptom management strategies to help him.


  • Hi NAS62469,

    We have a page here on the NAS site about self harming in children with ASD - https://www.autism.org.uk/about/behaviour/challenging-behaviour/self-injury.aspx

    There is some advice about the causes of self injury, ways to try and prevent it, how to react when it happens, and links to other sources of information on the subject at the bottom of the page, as well as the NAS helpline.

    Hopefully this is of some help to you,

    Ross - mod

  • Yes, I have experience in doing this.

    I had started to scratch and dig nails into my arms or face around the same age. I can only speak for why I had done this, which was in feeling momentary pain to eleviate the internalized suffering* I was experiencing, which then followed by a gradual release to let out the negitive emotions. I would also rock on my chair when I felt I wasn't being heard (parents being rigid in their demands).

    * Sometimes it is not just what is happening in the moment, but how it is affecting me, or more often how it is affecting the other person which I always internalize and fixate on, such as facial expressions, tone of voice, body movement. (typically with my parents during a disagreement).

    Shame and Guilt: When I would self-harm in private, the primary reason was/is typically related to feelings of shame or guilt about a particular situation.