We believe that parenting or working with a special needs child is highly rewarding, but it also comes with its challenges. If your child with special needs is biting, you are experiencing one of these difficulties right now. Biting can be scary, as it is harmful to your child and those around him or her.
Even though it is common for children with special needs to bite, it is something that needs to be addressed. Of course, you cannot let your child bite themselves or others. With that said, what can you do to help stop your child with special needs from biting?
When Special Needs Children Bite Others
Biting others is often referred to as a form of aggression. Aggression can sound like a scary word, but it does not have to be. Of course, aggressive behaviours are something that your child will need guidance with. They are not, however, a sign of who your child is.
Below are two reasons why your child may be exhibiting aggressive behaviour:
It is long been known that for example Autism and sensory challenges go hand in hand. Children with Autism often have a difficult time meeting their sensory needs. If your child is having trouble meeting an oral sensory need, they may resort to biting. The frustration that comes from not being able to meet this need can lead to what looks like aggressive behaviour from the outside.
Sometimes, biting can even be a child with Autism’s way of telling you what they need. This can be the case whether they are verbal or nonverbal. The Autism Treatment Centre explains that if your child can get what they need faster by biting you than they can by using their words, they may go for the bite more often than not. They may also bite because they are unable to communicate what they need, which leads to frustration.
How To Stop Your Child With Special Needs From Biting?
We do not claim to be global experts in this subject matter. However, following many years of working closely with parents and teachers of children with special educational needs the following are without any questions great suggestions to help you.
One way to help your child refrain from biting is to keep them busy on a predictable schedule. This method works well if your child is biting out of boredom, or if they are biting out of frustration that could be improved with a bit more predictability.
- Create a visual schedule, so your child can see what is coming next.
- Provide activities that help your child meet their sensory needs.
Another way is to avoid over-stimulation. It goes back to the communication-related reason for biting. Over-stimulation is common in children with special needs e.g. Autism. If they are not able to communicate how they are feeling with you, it can lead to aggressive behaviour such as biting.
Providing your child with an appropriate outlet to meet their oral sensory neds is equally important. Give them something that they can bite and chew on. This is extremely successful since it can be beneficial no matter the reason behind the bite. If your child feels the need to bite and they have an appropriate object with them, they are far less likely to bite themselves or others. Many therapists use sensory chews as their tool of choice when helping children who bite others or themselves.
We strongly recommend bite resistant clothing or bite resistant arm guards, to prevent any type of bite related injuries. Injuries often received by loving family members and educational professionals working with children with special educational needs. Please note human bites can get infected and cause long term injuries and stress.
Late last year we conducted a survey, which saw one hundred and seventy individuals from nine countries completing the survey, primarily coming from sectors, such as special educational needs, mental health care and nursing. The subsequent comprehensive survey report is full of valuable information, which we believe will be of immense help to you too.
Robert Kaiser, CEO
PPSS Group | BitePRO®