Excessive Blinking in Kids with Autism

While it can be difficult to see your child struggle with this behavior, it's important to understand that excessive blinking in kids with autism is not uncommon.

reuben kesherim
Published By Ruben Kesherim
November 26, 2023

Excessive Blinking in Kids with Autism

What is Excessive Blinking?

Excessive blinking, or eye blinking, is a repetitive behavior where an individual rapidly closes and opens their eyes. This behavior can be voluntary or involuntary and can occur in both children and adults. While occasional eye blinking is normal, excessive blinking may be a sign of an underlying condition.

Some possible causes of excessive blinking include stress, fatigue, anxiety, and dry eyes. It can also be a symptom of Tourette syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. If you or someone you know is experiencing excessive blinking, it's important to see a doctor to determine the underlying cause.

For more information on excessive blinking and its causes, please visit HealthLine.

Why Do Kids with Autism Blink Excessively?

Excessive blinking in kids with autism can be a concern for parents and caregivers. However, it's important to understand that this behavior is often a form of stimming, or self-stimulatory behavior, which is a common behavior in individuals with autism.

Stimming can take many forms, such as hand flapping, rocking back and forth, or spinning in circles. While the exact cause of stimming behavior is not fully understood, it is believed to be a way for individuals with autism to regulate sensory input and reduce feelings of anxiety or stress.

Excessive blinking may be a form of visual stimming, where the child is seeking sensory input through their visual system. It's important for parents and caregivers to understand that stimming is a natural part of how individuals with autism interact with the world around them. By allowing children with autism to engage in stimming behaviors, they are better able to self-regulate and manage their sensory experiences.

If you are concerned about your child's excessive blinking or other stimming behaviors, it's important to talk to a healthcare professional who can provide guidance and support.

In the meantime, there are many resources available online to help parents and caregivers better understand autism and how to support individuals with autism. One such resource is the website of the Autism Society of America, which offers a wealth of information and support for families and individuals affected by autism.

girl making hand gesture on her face

When Should You Be Concerned?

While excessive blinking in kids with autism is not typically a cause for concern, it's important to monitor the behavior and seek medical advice if you notice any of the following:

  • The behavior is causing physical harm, such as eye irritation or injury
  • The behavior is interfering with daily activities, such as reading or watching TV
  • The behavior is accompanied by other concerning behaviors, such as head banging or self-injury

If you are concerned about your child's excessive blinking, speak to their pediatrician or a qualified healthcare professional.

Is Blinking Too Much a Disorder?

Excessive blinking can be a symptom of various disorders, including Tourette syndrome, anxiety disorders, dry eyes syndrome, or ocular myasthenia gravis. However, it's important to note that occasional eye blinking is normal and may increase during periods of stress or fatigue.

If you suspect that your child's excessive blinking may be due to an underlying disorder or condition, it's important to consult with their pediatrician or a qualified healthcare professional. They can evaluate your child's symptoms and determine whether further testing or treatment is necessary.

Remember that every child is unique and develops at their own pace. While excessive blinking may be concerning at first, understanding its causes and underlying conditions can help parents and caregivers provide support and guidance for their child.

How Can You Help Your Child?

There are several strategies that can be used to help your child manage their excessive blinking:

  • Identify triggers: If you notice that your child's blinking increases in certain situations, such as when they are overstimulated or anxious, try to identify the triggers and modify the environment to reduce their stress.
  • Redirect the behavior: Offer your child alternative activities or stimming behaviors that provide similar sensory input. For example, you could offer a fidget toy or encourage them to engage in physical activity.
  • Provide support: Reassure your child that their behavior is okay and provide emotional support. It's important to remember that excessive blinking is not a choice and your child may be struggling to control the behavior.

What Are the Symptoms of Severe Autism?

Severe autism is a term used to describe individuals who have significant impairments in social communication and interaction, as well as restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior. While every individual with autism is unique, there are some common symptoms that may be present in those with severe autism.

Some possible symptoms of severe autism include:

  • Difficulty with nonverbal communication, such as making eye contact or interpreting facial expressions
  • Delayed language development or lack of spoken language altogether
  • Repetitive behaviors, such as hand flapping or lining up toys
  • Resistance to change or difficulty adapting to new routines
  • Sensory sensitivities, such as being overwhelmed by loud noises or certain textures

It's important to note that not all individuals with severe autism will exhibit all of these symptoms. Additionally, some individuals with severe autism may also have intellectual disabilities or other co-occurring conditions.

If you suspect that your child may have severe autism, it's important to seek a professional diagnosis from a qualified healthcare provider. Early intervention and treatment can help improve outcomes for individuals with autism and their families.

Tips for Identifying Triggers

Identifying triggers for your child's excessive blinking or other stimming behaviors can be challenging, but it's an important step in helping them manage their behavior. Here are some tips for parents on how to identify triggers:

  • Keep a journal: Take note of when your child engages in stimming behaviors and what was happening leading up to the behavior. This can help you identify patterns and potential triggers.
  • Observe their environment: Look at the environment your child is in when they engage in stimming behaviors. Are there certain sounds, smells, or textures that seem to trigger the behavior?
  • Talk to your child: Depending on their age and communication abilities, talk to your child about what may be causing their excessive blinking or other stimming behaviors. They may be able to provide insight into what is bothering them.
  • Consult with a professional: A healthcare professional who specializes in autism can help you identify triggers and develop strategies for managing your child's behavior.

By identifying triggers, parents can modify the environment and reduce stressors for their child, which may lead to a reduction in excessive blinking or other stimming behaviors. Remember that every child is unique, so what works for one child may not work for another. It may take time and patience to find effective strategies for managing your child's behavior.

Other Common Stimming Behaviors in Kids with Autism

While excessive blinking is a common form of stimming behavior in kids with autism, there are many other types of repetitive behaviors that may be observed. Here are some other examples of common stimming behaviors:

  • Hand flapping
  • Rocking back and forth
  • Spinning in circles
  • Finger flicking or tapping
  • Vocalizations, such as humming or repeating words or phrases
  • Chewing on objects or clothing

It's important to remember that stimming is a natural part of how individuals with autism interact with the world around them. While it may look unusual to others, it serves an important purpose for the individual engaging in the behavior.

If you are concerned about your child's stimming behaviors, it's important to talk to a healthcare professional who can provide guidance and support. They can help you understand why your child engages in these behaviors and offer strategies for managing them.

How Schools Can Support Students with Autism?

Excessive blinking and other stimming behaviors can be challenging for students with autism, especially in a school setting where they may be surrounded by unfamiliar people and sensory stimuli. However, there are many strategies that schools can use to support these students and help them succeed.

One important strategy is to create a sensory-friendly environment in the classroom. This might include reducing noise levels, providing visual schedules or prompts, and offering alternative seating options such as beanbag chairs or exercise balls. Schools can also work with parents and healthcare professionals to develop individualized education plans (IEPs) that address the student's specific needs and goals.

Another important strategy is to provide opportunities for structured breaks throughout the day. These breaks can allow students to engage in their preferred stimming behaviors in a safe and supportive environment, which can help reduce anxiety and improve focus during academic activities.

Schools can also provide training for teachers and staff on how to recognize and respond to stimming behaviors. By understanding why these behaviors occur and how they serve a purpose for the student, teachers can better support their students with autism in the classroom.

Finally, schools can work with families to ensure that communication between home and school is open and ongoing. This can help ensure that everyone involved in the student's education is working together towards common goals.

By implementing these strategies, schools can create an environment that supports students with autism who exhibit excessive blinking or other stimming behaviors. With the right support, these students can thrive academically and socially both inside and outside of the classroom.

Resources for Parents

If you're a parent of a child with autism, it's important to know that you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you better understand your child's diagnosis and provide support and guidance.

One such resource is the Autism Society of America (https://www.autism-society.org/), which offers a wealth of information and support for families and individuals affected by autism. They provide educational resources, community events, advocacy efforts, and more.

Another helpful resource is Autism Speaks (https://www.autismspeaks.org/), an organization dedicated to promoting solutions for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. They offer a variety of resources, including toolkits for parents, information on early intervention services, and a database of autism-related service providers.

Additionally, many local organizations offer support groups or other resources for families affected by autism. Check with your child's healthcare provider or search online for local organizations in your area.

Remember that seeking out resources and support can help you better understand your child's diagnosis and provide the best care possible.

Research on Medication for Excessive Blinking in People with Autism

While excessive blinking in individuals with autism is generally not a cause for concern, some parents and caregivers may be interested in exploring medication options to help manage the behavior. However, research on the effectiveness of medication specifically for excessive blinking in individuals with autism is limited.

One small study published in the Journal of Child Neurology found that treatment with the medication clonidine was effective in reducing tic symptoms, including excessive blinking, in children with autism spectrum disorder. However, more research is needed to determine whether this medication or others may be effective specifically for managing excessive blinking in individuals with autism.

It's important to note that medication should never be used as a first-line treatment for stimming behaviors such as excessive blinking.

Instead, parents and caregivers should work with healthcare professionals to develop individualized strategies for managing these behaviors that focus on environmental modifications and alternative sensory activities. Only after these strategies have been tried and proven ineffective should medication be considered as an option.

FAQs

Is excessive blinking common in kids with autism?

Yes, excessive blinking is a common form of stimming behavior in kids with autism. While it may look unusual to others, it serves an important purpose for the individual engaging in the behavior.

Can excessive blinking be harmful to my child?

While excessive blinking is generally not harmful, if the behavior is causing physical harm such as eye irritation or injury, it's important to seek medical advice. Additionally, if the behavior is interfering with daily activities such as reading or watching TV, it may be worth exploring strategies for managing the behavior.

How can I help my child manage their excessive blinking?

There are several strategies that can be used to help your child manage their excessive blinking. These include identifying triggers, redirecting the behavior, and providing emotional support. It's important to work with a qualified healthcare professional who specializes in autism to develop individualized strategies that work best for your child.

Will my child outgrow their excessive blinking?

Every child is unique and develops at their own pace. While some children may outgrow their excessive blinking over time, others may continue to engage in the behavior into adulthood. However, by understanding why these behaviors occur and providing appropriate support and guidance, parents and caregivers can help their children manage these behaviors more effectively.

Are there any medications that can help manage my child's excessive blinking?

While medication may be an option for managing tic symptoms such as excessive blinking in individuals with autism spectrum disorder, it should never be used as a first-line treatment. Instead, focus on environmental modifications and alternative sensory activities first before considering medication options. It's important to work with a healthcare professional who specializes in autism to determine whether medication is appropriate for your child's specific needs.

Conclusion

Excessive blinking in kids with autism is a common behavior that is often a form of stimming. While it can be concerning to witness, it's important to understand that the behavior is not typically a cause for concern.

By identifying triggers, redirecting the behavior, and providing support, you can help your child manage their excessive blinking and feel more comfortable in their environment. Remember to speak to a healthcare professional if you have any concerns about your child's behavior.

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