I have a little boy who is coming up on 3 years. He is blind and has taken to banging on all objects. Any ideas how I can stop this?

Topics: Behavior
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Posted by am_elia on Jul 19, 2012 - 3:16pm

Banging with his hands? head? banging the object off the surroundings?

My son did all those and will still take to banging anything he's holding off the floor. His vision teachers tell us that there is some sort of stimulation that it's giving him. The best thing that we can do is reinforce what the object is actually supposed to do (i.e., a train can roll across the floor instead of being banged on the floor) to create a different stimulation.

When he was banging his head on his crib it seemed out the blue that he picked it up and it was pretty intense. I wrapped two extra bumpers around his crib and I tried to keep a log of when he would bang his head. It turned out to be when he was really bored or really angry that he would start the banging. After realizing that his therapy team and I tried to help him express himself. When he got angry instead of just letting him bang his head we started to talk to him saying "Max I can see you're angry, you're very upset!" and things like that just so he could develop understanding that we know he's upset/angry before he resorts to banging his head. It took about four months but it eventually stopped. I still think that there is something in the banging sensation that he enjoys though because when I lay him down on the floor to change his diaper he will sometimes lift his head and drop it, letting it bang off the floor. It's always something to watch out for...

And, when he bangs with his hands or taps with his fingers I'm not so much concerned because it's probably a mobility and location thing. There's an idea that blind adults who use echolocation developed its in their early childhood. Max does sometimes bang really hard on objects but I find that it's mostly when he's overstimulated and excited, otherwise, it's out of curiosity and exploration that he seems to bang things with his hand because you can see him listening after each bang.

Posted by josephs mummy on Jul 19, 2012 - 4:00pm

Hello thank you for replying its a relief to know its not just joseph. I have noticed he does it more when upset or angry but joseph bangs all the time.Evan when we are out or in the middle of an activity he is doing it constantly. His vision team have told me it is a big problem and must be stopped but i do not know what to do. I feel as tho i am chasing him aeound naggin at him which will onlymake it worse if he thinks im nagging. Can i ask how old max is?

Posted by am_elia on Jul 25, 2012 - 12:30pm

Max is 2 years old (26 months to be exact). He was banging in the winter/spring time around the time he started daycare and everything at the time was changing...his schedule, living situation, daytime situation, feeding habits, everything! What is Joseph's diagnosis? Max has SOD with total vision loss. When I was on FamilyConnect.org I posted a comment about Max banging and someone suggested that if it's his head that he's banging it could be some sort of seizure (because that person's son had a similar sounding experience and that's what it turned out to be). Depending on his diagnosis and whether there might be anything "brain related" like SOD, you might want to mention it to your pediatrician and/or opthamologist. Then, again, that's just a possibility and maybe a rather extreme possibility.

As for Max himself and the banging I never mentioned it to his doctors because it definitely seemed behavioral. And, I don't know how other parents feel about strong discipline but when I caught him banging his head I smacked his butt. Me hitting his tush wasn't nearly as hard as he was banging his head but he definitely didn't like it when I smacked his butt. Another thing that I did for Max after focusing in on when he would get most upset and really start fussing to bang was buy him "ear muffs". When we go out I will say about 7/10 times he will start fussing and banging his hands on his head/ears/face or throwing and banging objects as if he's really upset just because of the surrounding sounds; once he has the ear muffs on his behavior gets a lot better.

Posted by chatnuptime1 on Aug 02, 2012 - 4:45am

I am glad I ran into this post. I have a sited son that used to bang everything in site at that age. At sixteen months he wanted out of his crip and so banged his head and rocked the crip hard against the wall by holding the rails and swaying back and forth to knock at the wall. When we moved the bed away from the wall he resorted to using his head. He was a big child too. So for his safey we took the crip away and made him a tot bed low to the floor. When frustrated or over stimulated he went to the wall and did his head banging at the wall. We found out that he has asbergers Autism. Highly functional but still has those moments when overwelmed that he would do repetitive things like banging and rocking, any thing that could be done many many times over and again. To soothe him we built him an haning chair of cloth with a soft seat that he could crawl into and hide and wrap himself into and thump his tamborene because it makes noise and gives off vibrations that seem to soothe him.

With autism to much stimulation sets them off to repetive actions to drown out other sensations they don't like. They have sensitivity to noises especially high pitch. I am thinking a blind child that focuses on his hearing may get frustrated with to much auditory stimulation. Masking hearing aids that take out excess noises may bring lasting releif to him He will still hear sounds but background noises will be reduced and that may calm him. He doesn't know wthat all those sounds are from it may be a bit scary for him to have that stimulation and not know it's source.

Posted by cmellor on Dec 19, 2012 - 6:08pm

Hey, I am too very glad I ran into this post! I thought I was the only one in the world whos child constantly banged on objects. I have a 2 and a half year old daughterm completely bling, ONH, she bangs beats and rythms out constantly, she would rather bang on walls, cots, table, window, cars than play with any toy, as I'm writing this post she is banging rather loudly on the side of her cot!!!! The VI team have too said she needs to stop doing it, we have everyone involved in her life trying to stop her doing this, but its pretty much impossible, they believe her obbsession with doing this is hampering her development, before this started she was thriving and reaching targets band goals, now I'm up all night everynight with her desperate to stop the banging!

She hasn't been diagnoised with any kind of behavioural problems, do others out there who experience the same problems as I believe that the baging is realted to something other than an attempt to stimualte themselves! Scarlett diesnt bang out random beats but copies nursery rhymes and songs she enjoys, its like a constant need to create music.... if we're out in an unfmailiar location we have to put a song on she likes in order to keep her calm, she follows the music around the room, where ever it is loacted, she wont speak in conversation and has stopped using her volcabulary but will sing songs all day long! I'm starting to dispair, if we were in a musical me and my daughter would communicate fantastically, through song.... but alas!

any input, advice, or someone who knows how I feel would be greatly appreciated!

Posted by Amber Bobnar on Jan 03, 2013 - 1:44pm

My son is also totally enamored with music - we have to take music with us everywhere we go! I don't think that's unusual for blind children and I know a lot of visually impaired kids who are exceptionally good at playing instruments or beating out a perfect rhythm.

Does your daughter get music therapy at home? Maybe you could try channeling her music love so that she can use it to help her development rather than hinder it. It sounds like she is kind of obsessed with the sounds of songs and that is making her unable to focus on other things. Music is good, but obsession isn't - especially if you're seeing her slow down in reaching her developmental goals.

It might also make sense to meet with a behaviorist (if you haven't already) to see if they can help you figure out a way to get her to play with sounds and beats more appropriately. Some sort of reward system where she gets something she wants (like to hear a song) if she does something appropriate (like pay attention and not bang on things).

Switch activated music toys may be a good idea, too. Something where if you press and hold the switch you get to hear the song, but if you beat on it you'll hear the song intermittently rather than all at once. Maybe that could encourage her to hold the switch and be calm rather than hit it?

Posted by cmellor on Jan 09, 2013 - 3:49pm


Thanks for replying!

I am not quite sure what a behaviorist is??? I am based in the UK, perhaps I am aware of this type of proffessional but they have a different job title. Same with music therapy, I'm not quite sure what that is either...

We attend music classes, mother and toddler type groups, in an attempt to try and nurture her talent and interests. But once the class is over, and allotted time for doing musically based actvities is finished, Scarlett continues to bang.

Father Christmas has bought along some more toys which seem to have scarlett engaging and using buttons more effectively, but for example at night time, once shes put in the cot the banging continues (she has sleep issues).

Its nice to hear you take music with you everywhere too! I thought I was being a bit of a bad mum by supplying it on demand when out on location.

Did your child bang too? Have they grown out of it? If so at what age?


Posted by Amber Bobnar on Jan 09, 2013 - 10:21pm

No, Ivan never did the banging thing, but music is definitely an important motivator and calmer for him. I don't think you're at all being a bad mom for taking music with you!

Music therapy is serviced by a trained and licensed music therapist - they do more than just play music with your child. They actually know how to use music to motivate a child to develop. I wrote an article about music therapy: http://www.wonderbaby.org/articles/music-development

And another mom wrote about her experiences with music therapy: http://www.wonderbaby.org/articles/music-therapy

A behaviorist, or behavior specialist, is a therapist who can help you identify problem behaviors in your child and (best of all) help you figure out ways to get your child to stop problem behaviors and focus on appropriate behaviors. The behavior specialist we've met with also has a PhD in psychology. We also regularly meet with a pediatric psychiatrist.

The more professionals you can get on your team, the better!