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Exploring the pattern between self-injurious behaviours and epilepsy in an autistic learner

Tram House 5

ABSTRACT: A study comparing the autism phenotype in children with and without epilepsy reported that children with co-occurring epilepsy displayed significantly higher autism indicators and behaviours that challenge, including self-injury (Viscidi et al., 2013). We report the case of a 16-year-old autistic learner and co-occurring epilepsy who regularly engages in various self-injurious behaviours (SIBs) which include hand and knuckle biting, knuckle hitting, head hitting, mouth hitting and head banging. There is a concern that the learner’s engagement in SIBs may have a relationship with the presence of seizures as periods of SIBs are frequently incidentally observed to be followed by seizures. Therefore, this study aims to investigate the possibility of a pattern between the presence of SIBs and seizures in this learner. Our findings show that while higher counts of SIBs are observed in the presence of seizures, no clear patterns were identified as many of the seizures occurred in the absence of SIBs. This study acknowledges that SIBs are multifunctional for this learner (i.e., not only to communicate developing seizures) and recommended several improvements if the study were to be replicated.

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