Prevalence and Risk-Markers of Self-Harm in Autistic Children and Adults

Lucy Licence, Chris Oliver, Joanna Moss, Caroline Richards

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3 Citations (Scopus)
215 Downloads (Pure)


Self-harm is purportedly common in autistic individuals, but under-researched, particularly in younger samples and those without intellectual disability. This study aimed to describe prevalence, profile and correlates of self-harm in autistic individuals without impairments in adaptive functioning. Parents of autistic participants (n = 83) completed questionnaires regarding the presence/topography of self-harm, demographic characteristics, autism severity, age of diagnosis, affect, activity levels and repetitive behaviour. 24.10% of participants engaged in self-harm. Self‐harm was associated with significantly higher levels of impulsivity, over-activity, negative affect, compulsive behaviour and insistence on sameness. Low mood and overactivity/impulsivity predicted the presence of self-harm, with the model correctly classifying 82.9% of cases. Findings highlight a role for impaired behavioural inhibition and low mood in the aetiological mechanisms underpinning self-harm in autism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Early online date26 Oct 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Oct 2019


  • Autism
  • Self-harm
  • Prevalence
  • Risk-marker
  • Affect
  • Impulsivity


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