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Q&A: Two Families with Three Head Bangers?


A colleague suggested I get in touch with you about head banging. I have a couple of children that do this. One is a 7 year old that bangs his head to go to sleep. He has done this since he was an infant. He also will only sleep on the carpet. If he is not near something he can bang his head on, he will move to something. He is verbal and maybe low average IQ. His parents are concerned but maybe not committed enough to do brushing.

The second child is a 2 year old. Let me preface this by saying that there are other children in the home and mom is very overwhelmed. He will bang his head to the point of bleeding. We are going to try to get mom to keep a journal to see if we can get insight about when this is happening. We do know that he is sensitive to sounds. We tried brushing one day, and he immediately withdrew from the brush. He does have an average or above average vocabulary. He is not seeing a behavior interventionist. I’m not sure this mom would be committed to trying brushing either, but we are going to offer it to both families. We are going to have them Google some information about it, which will help us know how committed they are, to see if they put forth the effort to do this.

Head banging is definitely an area of weakness for me, and I could really use any information that you can share whether it be websites or just things to try. I really appreciate anything you can offer.


Head banging, as well as all self-injurious behaviors, can be difficult to treat for two primary reasons:

  1. There are many causes of head banging, so until we determine the cause, it’s difficult to intervene.
  2. Even if the cause is sensory related, we cannot safely match the intensity through alternative strategies equivalent to what they are providing themselves through head banging.

On the Sensational Brain website, we a handout on treating head banging from a sensory perspective. For more in-depth information, we do have a webinar available on this topic:

I hope that helps!

Best Wishes,