Why do autistic kids slap or hit their own heads?

This behavior may be the one that terrifies parents the most.  They are often worried about the child giving him or herself a concussion or brain damage.  Repeated raps to the side of the head and face can also detach retinas, making the self-abuser blind.  When it occurs in public, people shrink away because they don’t understand what is happening.

What is happening is that the child can’t verbalize that he or she doesn’t like what is going on around them and that he/she can’t control the situation so they self-abuse.  They can control the blows to their heads because it’s their own head and their own hand.  It’s their way of letting us know they are doing something they can control.

When it comes to banging their heads against walls or the back of the couch, they aren’t receiving the amount of physical stimulation they want.  That brings us to the second reason; they are using hands, walls, and furniture to self stimulate, but because they don’t feel it as much as an observer thinks they should, they continue until they get the right sensation that soothes them.  When the body feels pain, it pumps out endorphins to treat the pain, which are like a narcotic.  It feels good after awhile and it comforts them at the same time.

The terrible impact of their repeating self-abuse is that they will continue it as long as it gives them the sensations  they seek.  For parents and caregivers, it’s not only terrifying, it’s unnerving to know the damage their child with  autism may be causing him/herself.  Usually, a pediatrician will prescribe a crash helmet to be worn at all times to deter the sensations of self-abuse.  Medication that creates the same happy feeling as the body’s endorphins may also be prescribed.

More Terrifying Scenarios:
1). Why do many kids with autism walk on their toes?
2). Why do children with autism self stimulation?
3). Can autistic people be dangerous?


  1. When my grandsons dad came to pick him up from my house, when he saw his dad he starting screaming and slapping his head, why would he do that?

  2. im on the spectrum..& when im frustrated, i do smack & beat by skull. this long analysis you did is wrong. you make it seem like we’re addicted to hitting ourselves, to get feel good endorphins? no. it’s more like trying to awaken our minds when we get stuck. the neurons aren’t firing off & connecting right. like with me & this covid deal, unemployment, high risk of losing my apartment and independence..im having the worst time dealing with the bureaucracy games, the application process..people are generally all about taking care of themselves, and don’t care if others live or die. the (Illinois) unemployment office guy literally hung up in my face..granted they are overwhelmed, but they left me for dead. then i blame myself, what did i do wrong, im kind, im intelligent, some social quirks, but nothing offensive. we literally beat ourselves up in frustration, too hard on ourselves. it’s a frustration on a cellular, mental, chemical, emotional level..smack smack, trying to wake up out of it. like trying to punch a motor to make it rev up. the next step is suicide..but pain-free in my sleep, an opiod overdose ideal, where i my chest just slowly stops breathing. im trying to get a gig and stay alive. i had a purpose, i had good ideas i want to put out into the world before i go. wish your boy luck finding another gig for income, otherwise im ghost. i smacked myself into a headache today, after a failed attempt at landing a gig with AT&T, so I searched what other aspies are doing to stop smacking themselves, & found this article. i disagree with it, but at least people are aware it’s a thing & discussing it.

    1. Aspie guy, THANK YOU for writing an explanation about slapping. You have a HUGE purpose and are contributing in this world. What you wrote was helpful. Keep writing and help us understand autism and Asperger’s.
      Breathe and keep writing.

    2. I agree with you. I love singing and when I go to record after making a beat.. I get so frustrated because it doesn’t come out how it does when I sing raw and unrecorded so I smack myself and screech as loud as I can name-calling myself….. I’ve attempted the opioid method but it never stuck.. I’m also unemployed and it’s really hard to get involved in the system that is fucked called “modern society”

      Tried living off-the-grid twice and it was refreshing but having to struggle to find food resources was a bitch so here I am again. I want to talk more about these things with you, in a private message, if you’re up for it. My snapchat is @booknerd_021
      Nothing creepy, lol. I just need someone relatable to talk with about this and moments where I do it again to know I’m not alone.

    3. I am autistic and also do this once in wilie when frustrated I do NOT see it as mental illness but as I am fed up with all crap. In my case my oldeer sister stoled oveer 30 thousand from me 90% of my stuff and has lied muniplated many including police. I been fighting for justice 10 years now and the PI we hired has not done anything just took our money We belioeve he been munipated by her also. I can’t even find a lawyer to help me I have lots proof including video my sister took.

  3. it’s not a child it’s my daughter’s husband who will slap the side of his head repeatedly. more and more why? He says he had a little dog who did that when he was a little boy and now it’s a habit that’s what he says the reason why.

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