Predictors of self-injurious behavior and self-restraint in autism spectrum disorder: towards a hypothesis of impaired behavioral control

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Self-injury is common in autism spectrum disorder (ASD); however few studies have investigated correlates of self-injury or the putative associations with self-restraint. Questionnaire data on self-injury, self-restraint, health conditions, overactivity/impulsivity and repetitive/restricted behavior were collected on 208 children and 216 adults with ASD ( mean age=24.10, range 6-61). Self-injury and self-restraint were frequent and significantly associated in both children (45.7% and 40.9%, p<.001) and adults (49.1% and 42.6%, p<.001). Severe self-injury was predicted by lower ability, health conditions and overactivity/impulsivity in children (p<.001) and repetitive/restricted behavior and overactivity/impulsivity in adults (p<.001). These data provide preliminary support for a developmental model of self-injury and self-restraint in which painful health conditions and compromised behavioral control influence the presence and trajectory of self-injury in ASD.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)701–713
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Early online date9 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


  • Autism spectrum disorder, Self-injury, Self-restraint, Prevalence, Impulsivity, Pain