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My 16- nearly 17-year-old son still bites. He isn’t neurotypical and he already goes to therapy. He does see what he is doing as normal for him alone.

He bites when anyone tries to hug him or give any physical contact. He does martial arts but never uses it in that situation. He only bites. He is very averse outside of martial arts and somewhat during. He bites anyone he doesn’t want touching him. He has bitten his step father and siblings as well as students in his school. I have spoken to him but even he isn’t entirely sure why. He always says that it’s all he can think of.

How to make him stop biting?

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As you have not provided much info, this answer is somewhat based on conjecture.

It sounds as if your child is neuroatypical. Whatever the condition, he does not like the feeling he experiences (either physical or psychological) when someone hugs or touches him. For some reason, he doesn't welcome touch, and he 'fights back' when someone violates his space. And, again for some reason, instead of expressing his wishes/feelings verbally ("Please don't hug me. I find it very uncomfortable."), he bites.

The message is clear: Don't hug him. Don't initiate any uninvited touches.

What if you have a sixteen year old the still bites?

I would stop touching/hugging him, I would speak with the teachers and counselor at his school, and I would have him evaluated for a neurological problem (maybe a sensory issue). You may have done all of this already.

If someone had severe trigeminal neuralgia where just a kiss on the cheek resulted in a jolt of severe pain shooting through that side of their face, would you still want to kiss them on that cheek? My guess is that you would understand and of course you would avoid that.

Neuroatypicals don't experience the world the same way that neurotypicals do, just as people with trigeminal neuralgia do not. Understanding and respect is in order. Unless he initiated the biting out of hostility/frustration/other, the answer for the moment is to stop touching him in a way he finds uncomfortable, and work with him and a specialist to get him to communicate his desires in a socially acceptable manner before biting is triggered.

Work on the specifics with your doctor/therapist. That's what they are there for.

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"all he can think of"...to do what? It might help if you could assist him in focusing on what he wants to happen (I would assume he doesn't want to be touched). Ask him how he feels when he is touched, and then help him come up with better strategies for avoiding or disengaging from physical contact that is uncomfortable for him.

There are a number of strategies available for people who don't like to be touched. https://healthproadvice.com/mental-health/touch-aversion does a good job of labeling the condition (and therefore, perhaps, helping to legitimize it so he feels that it is okay for him to avoid touch) and giving some practical suggestions for helping him deal with it. It can also help him frame the explanations he will need in order to make people who might otherwise want to touch him to change their interactions with him.

I would also recommend counseling, if you can manage it. Sometimes it helps to be able to discuss problems with somebody who isn't emotionally engaged with your life. He might be more comfortable discussing why he doesn't want to be hugged by the people he loves with someone who isn't going to feel hurt by that fact.

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I don't believe it is possible to 'make' him stop biting... BUT... you can talk to him about why he bites (which you've already done... and it sounds like it's because he is overstimulated by touch by others or being made to feel uncomfortable)... and you can discuss strategies for how to handle it in the future.

It sounds like he is verbal (?) since you mentioned that he expressed he can't think of anything else to do... If he is verbal, than you can help him write a script that expresses what he would want to say in that moment, but probably CAN'T IN the moment because he's being triggered and stuck in reactivity... and is doing the biting more out of habit.

Help him write out what he feels and wants to say... "Don't touch me. I don't like it." ... whatever comes naturally to him. He can say it with force and determination. Maybe teach him to put his arms up in front of his face as a defensive posture as he says it... And you can practice, practice, practice. Practice when he is in a good place and NOT being triggered. Recruit different people in his life to approach him as if to touch him ... and help him remember his script and putting his arms up. Practice in different settings at different times of day with different people...

Good luck! Let us know if any of the suggestions here work - Namaste

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