Cognitive and functional characteristics of adolescents who commit non-suicidal self-injury
Zieammermann, Steven Matthew
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This was a qualitative study that used a phenomenological approach to describe the conscious experiences of adolescents of varying cognitive abilities who have engaged in non-suicidal self- injurious behavior. Its purpose was to identify and analyze patterns or trends, including similarities and dissimilarities, among a sample of adolescents for whom such behavior has been a factor in their early development. This study reports on a sample of adolescents who attend a special day school in central Kansas for students with severe behavioral disorders and who have engaged in deliberate non-suicidal self-injury. Data were gathered through field notes taken during observation of student participants in the school setting, interviews with various stakeholders, and document review of participant/student IEP records. It was found that among students of average ability, cognitively distorted thought- processing and patterns of pervasive invalidating environmental cues form a combination of experiences that are apt to produce an atmosphere of emotional dysregulation conducive to the likelihood of adolescent self-injury. It was also found that among young people with severe intellectual disabilities, the tendency to self-injure is highly communicative in nature and less of a process than a need for immediate gratification or changes in environment. In addition, these needs are often of physiological bearing, more so than among the population without intellectual disability. Limitations of the current study were discussed, as well as needs for continuing research. Finally, best practice recommendations for school-based personnel working with self-injurious adolescents were addressed.
Thesis (M.Ed.)--Wichita State University, College of Education, Dept. of Curriculum and Instruction