Self Injurious Behaviour and Autism

Additional Information


It can be very difficult to assess the level of pain in individuals who cannot self-report. At present, there are a limited number of tools, such as the FLACC Pain Scale, which are designed to identify pain in individuals who can’t communicate easily.

Literature Review

The purpose of our literature review was to identify existing scientific reviews, other significant scientific studies, and clinical guidance on the topic of self injurious behaviours and autism in order to provide evidence for our website entry on this topic.

Scope of the Literature Review

We searched a wide range of scientific databases (such as Medline, Psychinfo, CINAHL and ERIC) during January and February 2016.

We searched key sources of clinical guidance (such as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, The Social Care Institute for Excellence and the Cochrane Library).

We searched other relevant datbases (such as Autism Data and the Research Autism publications datbase).

Our search was limited to reviews and significant clinical guidance documents written in English and published in peer-reviewed journals or on relevant websites between 1990 and 2015.

Search Terms

We used a variety of search terms, including synonyms and related terms for autism (such as Asperger syndrome); self injury (such as self injurious behaviours); and clinical guidance.


We identified 30 reviews and significant studies and three guidance documents (from SCIE and from NICE).

Strengths and Limitations

Our review was limited to an analysis of reviews, significant studies and clinical guidance on self injurious behaviours in people on the autism spectrum, published between 1990 and 2015.

It was not intended to be a systematic review of all the research papers on the topic of self injurious behaviour in autism, nor we did we carry out a meta-analysis of the reviews and studies we identified.


If you know of other reviews we should include when we update our own review please email info@researchautism.net

Related Additional Information

02 Nov 2017