Thanks for your response.
First off, the reason one child may bang their head may be different than another child and it can be a way to stim. This is why ABA therapists try to determine what the function of a behavior, including head banging, is. As far as research indicates, yes sometimes children with autism may bang their head because it feels good to them. Stephen M. Edelson, PhD, has suggested physiological reasons autistic children head bang including biochemical and genetic factors. He says that research has found that neurotransmitter levels may be linked to headbanging and other self-injurious behaviors.
Edelson writes, “Beta-endorphins are endogenous opiate-like substances in the brain, and self-injury may increase the production and/or the release of endorphins. As a result, the individual experiences an anesthesia-like effect and, ostensibly, he/she does not feel any pain while engaging in the behavior (Sandman et al., 1983). Furthermore, the release of endorphins may provide the individual with a euphoric-like feeling. Head banging can be a way some individuals stim, but it could be dangerous to inflict constant trauma on the brain in the long term, so in cases like this ABA therapists can use different techniques to teach an alternative behavior.
I use the example of masturbation, which isn’t purely related to procreation, as an example of a behavior many neurotypicals engage in because it feels good. Our society has adopted general thoughts about what behaviors should be public vs. private. There’s a lot of shame people encounter about sexual behaviors, and I’m trying to state behaviors that feel good shouldn’t receive the amount of shame they often do. However, there may be certain situations in society where a person cannot do those behaviors. For instance, if someone is stimming and it makes a lot of noise at a movie, the theater manager may ask that person to leave. In general, people in society don’t understand differences and everyone is held to the same general standards, expectations and rule governed behaviors.
I’m hoping we can move toward a future where all our differences are understood and respected in society. But we are not quite there yet.