Classification of self-injurious behaviour across the continuum of relative environmental–biological influence

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Self-injurious behaviour (SIB) is generally considered to be the product of interactions between dysfunction stemming from the primary developmental disability and experiences that occasion and reinforce SIB. As a result of these complex interactions, SIB presents as a heterogeneous problem. Recent research delineating subtypes of SIB that are nonsocially mediated, including one that is amenable to change and one that is highly invariant, enables classification of SIB across a broader continuum of relative environmental–biological influence. Directly examining how the functional classes of SIB differ has the potential to structure research, will improve our understanding this problem, and lead to more targeted behavioural and pharmacological interventions. Recognising that SIB is not a single entity but is composed of distinct functional classes would better align research with conceptual models that view SIB as the product of interactions between environmental and biological variables.

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