I was one of the mums who put their hand up for having a head-banging child. Our son is nearly 6 now (Aug 2011). When he was about 1 year old, he started head banging. It appeared to be out of frustration or anger. I considered it to be part of, or a type of tantrum. It was alarming for me, but over time I discovered that there was very little I could do to stop it, except try to side-track his tantrum. He would lie on the floor on his tummy and bang his forehead on the floor. Sometimes, if he was sitting, he would bend down and hit his forehead on the floor. When he started walking at about 15 months he continued the head banging. He would do it in his cot, in bed and during the day. Sometimes, he would even bang his head on the floor from a standing position. He would just bend down from the waist and bang his forehead on whatever surface was in front of him. He now carries a permanent faint scar or thickened spot on his forehead from the years of head banging.

I think it stopped when he was about three and a half. He had started preschool and I was very concerned about this behaviour. But, as is usually the case, my concerns were not realised at preschool, as he seemed to grow out of it.

I had not linked food and this behaviour until my sister mentioned it to me. He had stopped the head banging before I was able to do any intolerence testing to highlight any potential food causes.

He is now a very active kindergarten boy, who loves school and enjoys all he does. For me, he is still a handful as he is a sensory seeker. He spends a lot of his time stomping on our (very loud) timber floors and stairs, crashing into walls deliberately and launching himself at a run into the lounges and beds. He frequently hits the lounges so hard, he hurts his head on the timber frame beneath the cushioning! We have a very expensive, pre-kids, well-padded lounge. It is very hard to feel the frame in this one. He also loves to launch himself at a run at his dad and I and doesn't stop. He calls this cuddles. At 25kgs, this is tough on us. He is always hitting and touching his 7y9m old Apsy brother, causing frequent flair ups. He loves wrestles, sausage rolls (OT exercise to wrap him in a quilt and roll a fitball over him), squeezy hugs and tickles. Oh, and leaping off things, like the lounge, his bed, the third last step, off our garden retaining walls etc. All this is a pretty constant waking activity for him. Thankfully he is able to settle and concentrate in class. Plus OT exercises help!

I have been procrastinating over the RPA elim diet for him, due to (my) health reasons. After your talk, I'm again very motivated to get into it. As well as wanting to improve his behaviour which includes occasional ODD type patterns and physical health, his Aspy brother needs to do it and I know I have many issues related to food. My GP is finally coming on board and I have great confidence in my Failsafe aware dietitian.

I hope this information is of use to you, although I have no evidence of a link between the food and head banging. I am eager to see if there is a link to food and sensory seeking now! - Tracey (report received August 2011)

Update nearly 4 years later:  I wonder at the coincidence of hearing from you now, and the fact that only yesterday, before seeing your email, I pulled out the elimination diet handbook with a view to finally get into it for myself and my two sons. My then 6yo son, now 9y3m, has been struggling with learning at school. His inability to remain focused and on task in almost every area of his life is seeing him start to fall behind his peers. We have been attending counselling to assist him in learning to accept and recognise his behaviours and the consequences. We are also currently undergoing psychological testing with a view to possible ADHD diagnosis. 2 weeks ago, we started the Move to Learn programme at home as he still displays signs of not crossing his midline, difficulty with handedness and vestibular and fine motor skills issues.

I firmly believe that food is a big issue for him, and am embarrassed to admit it's just been too hard to undergo the food testing. But, it needs to be done before any further talk of medicating for ADHD. This might just be big and scary enough to get me motivated - Tracey