There are lots of researchers studying the connection between autism and aggression. The results show that aggressive behaviors are commonly found in autistic children with slight symptoms and low IQ. The autism aggression causes pressure on those kids and their families.
As a parent, we have to confront our kids with their aggressive behavior on a daily basis. It will be more difficult if our children are diagnosed with the autism disorder spectrum (ASD). It is crucial to understand why they behave aggressively so that we can teach them more appropriate ways of communicating instead of aggression.
Autism aggression and self-injurious behavior
If you have a kid with autism, I’m sure you will often experience his or her aggressive behaviors. And if you notice, they usually express their fear, anger, frustration, or tantrum in a very different way as other normal children do.
Sometimes, they behave aggressively towards others to show their feelings, just like other kids. However, the most significant difference in autism aggressive behavior is that autistic kids tend to be aggressive towards themselves. This is also known as self-injurious behavior. Some of the most common expressions are hurting themselves, like biting their hands or banging their heads.
There might be various reasons why ASD kids are acting out aggressively and hurting themselves, including:
- Find it difficult to understand situations happening around them – especially when people are communicating non verbally
- Have trouble communicating their needs – for instance, they want to play with you, want to do something, or want an object but can’t show you
- Have sensory sensitivities – there are some autistic kids are oversensitive with noises
- To be extremely anxious or frightened
- Want to get away from tense situations
It is really important to understand how well your kid can communicate. Let me tell you an example of my autistic son. Whenever my colleagues or friends visit our house, it seems that he doesn’t want me to talk with them and take him outside. He pulls my shirt, kicks me, and even bites his hand and then slaps his head. He doesn’t tell me but uses aggression as his way of communicating.
There was a time he threw a ceramic plate near his toys after several times gesturing to me to move my friend out of the house but I didn’t notice. Luckily, I was running to him in time and there was no accident.
Autism aggressive behavior strategies
You can use autism aggression treatment, but obviously, you can’t stop your ASD kid’s tantrums or outbursts. That’s why I want to give you some practical strategies that I have used to deal with my son’s aggression.
The first and most significant thing to keep in mind is staying calm. You know, your kid throws tantrums mostly because he or she can’t communicate with you. And he or she starts gaining your attention by behaving aggressively. At that moment, you shouldn’t be anxious, but stay calm and control your emotions.
If you keep storming violently, everything will only become worse. Even ordinary people find it hard to handle what someone is saying when they are strained. This is particularly true for autistic kids because they have difficulty in understanding language.
Simultaneously, try to limit your words as much as possible. Instead of saying “Harley, stop throwing your toys, come here, and sit down”, just say “Harley, come over here”. Or only “Come here” is okay. Don’t make things complex.
You also want to take your kid to another safer place if he or she is in a dangerous situation, such as glass objects. In case there are lots of people, it is better to tell them to move out of there. Don’t misunderstand between being shy and being autistic here. This action is to prevent your kid from the possibility of hurting others, not because he doesn’t want to talk with them.
Those are possible ways for controlling autistic outbursts or how to deal with an aggressive autistic child. But there is still common behavior, which is that your kid hurts himself in such situations. So how to stop an autistic child from hitting effectively is very important.
The reason your autistic child hit himself might be because he wants you to pay attention to him. Stop what you are doing and look at him. Then you can teach him another way to gain your attention. For instance, tell him to say “Mum” or come to your side. That’s just a simple way, but it works effectively.
At the end of the day, you still need to understand your kid’s ability to communicate with others first. Then try to apply the above recommended strategies to help him stop acting aggressively or hitting himself. There might be more effective ways, depending on the aggressive levels that your kid shows.
Don’t forget that I’m always there with you in this autism journey. You just need to believe in your kid, spend more time with him, and have a proper approach to this issue, then you’re doing the right things. You can also visit a pediatrician or psychologist when necessary to have timely solutions.