Canadian girl with autism in world-first test on how brain stimulation could stop severe self-harm – CTV

June 20, 2022

A nine-year-old Canadian girl with autism spectrum disorder has “amazed” her doctors and scientists after they were able to send electrical signals to her brain that stopped her from inflicting severe harm on herself.

Ellie Tomljanovic who lives in Barrie, Ont., is patient number one in a world-first study to see if deep brain stimulation (DBS) can stop children who repeatedly try to hurt themselves. Doctors estimate that up to 50% of children with ASD self-harm, including by hitting themselves, biting and punching others.

Ellie’s violent outbursts were devastatingly severe. Family videos shared with CTV News show her hitting her head with her hand, trying to swallow her fist, shoving fingers up her nose to trigger bleeding along with vomiting and spitting. Her parents, Lisa and Jason, feared for her life.

“It got pretty bad. So Ellie ended up fracturing both of her cheekbones. She’s also knocked out a tooth by biting the side of the bathtub and knocked out one of her front teeth,” her mother said.

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