Navigating self-injurious behaviors (SIBs) in early intervention can be quite challenging.

The kiddos are trying to regulate and communicate something, while their families oftentimes feel frustrated or unable to adequately support their child.

Yesterday’s post listed out why kiddos engage in SIBs and also some common ones we might see in practice.

Today, I want to dig in a little deeper into navigating these behaviors.

As practitioners, we can empower our families with mindful tools to support their children.  We can help them understand from the very beginning that this is not a sprint, and that it can be a marathon.  We can provide hope, encouragement, and actively problem solve barriers that occur when trialing supportive strategies.

But one of the things that I have found throughout my years of practice is that any time I want to address a behavior change in my kiddos, their behavior typically gets worse before it starts to get better.

And this is especially true when it comes to self-injurious behaviors. It’s important to bring this up because most of the time the families see the immediate increase in behaviors, think that the strategy isn’t working, and quickly stop what they are doing.

So what do we do?

Being that we are family-centered, I always start with a conversation with the families about why these behaviors are happening and share a few strategies to try.

I then always spend time explaining to them that the behaviors can get worse before we will start to see an increase in self regulation. But that doesn’t mean the strategy isn’t working.

In fact, this is an indication that the supports in place are working.  SIBs are communication.  

There is now a shift within that communicative relationship.  

What once achieved a goal no longer works. And this is when you start to see the child utilize techniques to calm and organize, paired with the parent’s mindful and consistent approach.

Bottom line: It takes time. It takes communication. It takes consistency.  It takes support. And this where we as practitioners can play the biggest role.

Have you addressed self-injurious behaviors in EI before? What strategies have you found to be successful/ not successful? Do you see them get worse before they got better?

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