Autism and Biting, Why do Autistic Children Bite?

Biting Behavior in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Biting is a behavior that is common among children with autism spectrum disorders. All human behavior can be assessed for function. In typically developing children, biting is seen as an aggressive behavior. In children with autism, biting is seen as either aggressive or self-stimulating behavior. Most often, children with autism who bite (either themselves or others) do it for self-stimulating purposes. Children on the spectrum are often affected by sensory processing disorders. Light touch, certain sounds and other sensory input can become incredibly overwhelming, producing anxiety. Children on the spectrum may be seen biting their hands as a way to reduce this anxiety by centralizing the discomfort in one location. Others may lack sensory awareness and therefore require more intense input to feel anything. These individuals may bite themselves or others in order to receive sensory feedback they are seeking.

Oral fixation is a form of sensory stimulation. Children on the spectrum may be inclined to bite their own hands and objects that are not meant to be chewed in order to find relief from their oral fixation. Some children bite because they are seeking to activate their pain receptors to an isolated place. When a child receives sensory overload from their surroundings, they might be compelled to “control” the input by focusing on painful stimuli.

Some children on the spectrum bite caregivers, siblings and other people. Social impairments can limit communication and interactions, leaving the child with few tools to resolve internal or external conflict. When these problems arise, they bite others in response to conflict. This might be seen as an avoidance or aggression tactic to avoid overstimulation or non-preferred activities. As a behavioral problem or a stimulation source, biting can be treated and replaced with more pro-social behaviors. Applied behavioral analysis, therapeutic massage and floortime are all treatments which are noted to produce positive changes in biting behavior.

In order to reduce or eliminate the biting behavior, its function must first be determined. Once a caregiver understands why the child bites, it is much easier to apply an intervention. When the child is seeking oral stimulation, replacement items that are appropriate for biting might be an option. Raw carrots, celery or chewing gum might be appropriate substitutions. If the child is seeking to centralize pain or discomfort, anxiety reducing exercises might be helpful. One typical intervention strategy for this problem is to coach the child through breathing exercises. If this is not a possibility due to communication or functioning capability, the child can be offered a more positive form of stimulation. If the child is biting his hands, give him something to keep his hands busy. Some parents find that a tub of dry beans filled with a few small toys hidden inside of it is a good way to distract sensory seeking hands.

Children who bite others require constant supervision. If they are not supervised, they pose potential harm to themselves and those around them. They must be taught replacement behaviors to stop the biting. This is done most effectively through interventions such as applied behavior analysis. In this type of treatment, the child is rewarded for positive behaviors and mal-adaptive behaviors are ignored. The child learns that they will not gain access to their desired target through biting. They might also be exposed to a punitive environmental factor that diminishes with decreased biting behavior.

Until the biting habits have ceased, it is imperative that these children are not left unattended for any amount of time. Biting can be a very stressful behavior for both parent and child to overcome. However, with patience and dedication to treatment, it is possible to eliminate this behavior.

1). Behavioral problems in children with autism including antisocial, abnormal, aggressiveness.
2). How to manage behavior in children with autism
3). Why do autistic children scream?
4). Do children with autism regress?
5). Can I get paid to take care of a relative with autism?


  1. My son constantly chews his hands. To the point of making them bleed. I got teething mittens made for him. They gave his hands a chance to heal. I highly reccommend them

  2. so far have tried mittens, chew toys, chewigem bangles and neckaces, and fidget toys – kid is 10 and biting hands has increased to point skin is often broken and is quite ragged, every night I apply cream and bandage hands.

    1. Found that my child likes to sort things – beads, sequins, etc. Sorting is something she liked to do, just had to figure out how to make it portable. Also, she likes scented nail polish. Piggy paint “natural as mud” fingernail paint comes in different scents and I didn’t worry if she nibbled once in a while. It made a difference, because she liked the way it looked and the way it smelled. It gave her hands a break, even though she didn’t want her nails painted all the time. Sometimes we use gum as a positive reinforcement for not chewing. Anyway, just some ideas…two years after the fact. All the best to you.

  3. My son used to bite a lot when he is excited or anger. Or in free time he even bites in his wrist also plz suggest something

  4. Dear Sir or Madam,

    I am an expert on autism and such thing as how diet rules behaviors. The children of autism who bite or are in anyway aggressive have experienced a failure to provide their pineal glands (“seat of the soul”) with enough lithium (which is in the soil so goes to the plant/root foods such as carrots, onions and potatoes.) I am about to release the cause of autism to The Dan Marino Foundation and if you wish you may write to me privately at

    Please study the website at and learn why even school shootings happen in your country but do not happen in Japan which is my home country that has people with a natural affinity to eat plant/root vegetables.

    America is eating bat dung, rat poison, insecticides you call pesticides that somehow you fail to be alarmed about when consumed by your neighbors (see “Parkinson’s and 11 pesticides” and alert your church if you have one), massive chemical abuse, mercury, aluminum (in a popular drink item that is taking 45.58% of your seniors to Alzheimer’s disease) and even LIMESTONE which is causing mental retardation on a massive scale in your colas, fruit juices, restaurant teas and even in your homes where somehow you use harsh products such as Sanivac to dissolve what is caked on and clogging your shower heads and faucets but fail to think about the rest of the world.

    I cannot find a true Christian where I live who will PICK UP THE CROSS and join me in my crusade to help reduce the murder, rape and suicide rates in America. DEPRAVITY of the human soul is controlled by DIET so please tell the world of autism that it must feed the child what are the MANDATORY FOODS that regulate the brain. I can tell you what those are if you write to me at but do not look for my name on the web as I have a little trouble announcing the cause of autism to the general public since the dadblasted FDA is involved.

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