Otago Polytechnic

Self-injurious behaviour and the impact of a protective helmet on occupational engagement and family life

Susan McGlade (PostDip.OT, Dip. OT)

Supervisor: Rita Robinson Doctoral Candidate, MOcc.Ther., GCLT (7). 

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a disorder that has deficits in communication and social engagement, but also repetitive behaviors and restrictive interests which can result in self- injurious behaviour.  Self-injurious behaviour (SIB) poses a significant health and safety concern, impacts the whanau (family) unit, interferes with daily routines, and prevents engagement in occupational and community roles.  This qualitative descriptive research examines the parent/primary caregivers lived experiences; their journey from before to after the implementation of protective equipment, a protective helmet and how this impacted their child’s occupational engagement and their family life.

The purpose of this research is to widen the consideration of the further benefits of using protective equipment with children who have severe self-injurious behaviour, enlarging the scope of its use and benefit past the immediate reduction in behaviours. This is important because, given that the fundamental basis of occupational therapy is to enhance occupational participation, occupational therapists have the responsibility of improving function and independence, adaptive equipment can be used to achieve this.