Hustyi KM, Hammond JL, Rezvani AB, Hall SS
Res Dev Disabil. 2013 Jun 26;34(9):2890-2899
We examined the topography, severity, potential sources of reinforcement, and treatments utilized for skin-picking behavior shown by individuals with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS). The parents of 55 individuals with PWS, aged 6-25 years, were interviewed about their child’s skin-picking behavior using the Self-Injury Trauma Scale (SIT; Iwata, Pace, Kissel, Nau, & Farber, 1990) and the Functional Analysis Screening Tool (FAST; Iwata, DeLeon, & Roscoe, 2013). Results showed that skin picking in PWS occurred on the extremities (i.e., arms, legs, hands, and feet) for 75% of cases and resulted in bodily injury for 83.7% cases. Skin picking posed a high risk to the individual concerned in 41.8% of cases. Automatic sensory stimulation was identified as a potential source of reinforcement in the majority of cases (52.7%) followed by access to social attention or preferred items (36.4%). Treatments utilized by parents were primarily behavioral strategies (56.3%) followed by basic first aid (54.5%). There were no differences in the topography, severity or potential source of reinforcement between those with the deletion (DEL) subtype and those with the uniparental disomy (UPD) subtype. Taken together, these data indicate that skin picking shown by individuals with PWS is a particularly severe and intractable behavioral issue that may be maintained by (as yet unknown) sensory consequences. Further studies to identify the determinants of skin picking in PWS are therefore needed. The implications for interventions are discussed.