Monday, June 17, 2024

How To Handle An Aggressive Autistic Teenager

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Domestic Physical Abuse Vs Verbal Aggression

Autism and Aggression: Strategies for Success – Part 1

If your teenager has gotten physical with you then you are going to need to make a big decision.

Because if you bring authorities involved in this matter then you will lose control because now the state has a say in what is going on because the matter has become a legal matter.

Once a person has struck another person, now its in the hands of the law.

So you need to be clear on whether or not your child is being physically abusive versus emotionally abusive.

Meltdown Vs Temper Tantrum

Although they may look similar, meltdowns are different from temper tantrums. A temper tantrum is usually a childs method for getting what he/she wants. A meltdown, however, has no purpose and is beyond a childs control.

To be more specific, a temper tantrum happens when a child is:

  • Frustrated with not getting what he/she wants
  • Not able to do what he/she wants
  • Not able to properly communicate

A child might stop a tantrum after the following responses:

  • Being comforted by a parent or caregiver
  • Being given what he/she wants
  • Being ignored and giving up on his/her own

Youngsters who throw temper tantrums are aware and in control of their actions and can adjust the level of their tantrum based on the response they get from a parent or adult. Here we can use behavioral strategies to manage tantrums.

Meltdowns have entirely different causes. Because they are triggered by sensory overload, a child on the spectrum having a meltdown can have a few defining characteristics.

Autistic meltdown symptoms may:

  • Start with pre-meltdown signs called rumblings which can be verbal or physical behaviors that signal an imminent meltdown
  • Be preceded with stimming
  • Be caused by overstimulation or an undesirable sensory input
  • Not be limited to young children and can also happen to teens and adults
  • Happen with or without an audience
  • Last longer than tantrums

Once you can tell the difference between a tantrum and a meltdown, then you can apply the right strategies to deal with the situation.

How To Handle Teenager Aggression

Here are some tips and advice on what to do when you are dealing with an aggressive teenager:

1. Be a pack leader

It is important that you learn to assert yourself in a way that requires your child to respect you.

Remember, this is all about being the alpha.

And no, this is not about yelling or controlling.

Its about respecting your authority.

Teenagers are responding more to your body language and tone of voice more than anything else.

2. Validate their feelings

No matter how absurd you may think their point of view, it is important that you not invalidate them.

He or she wants to be heard and acknowledged.

You dont have to agree.

You just have to validate their point of view.

3. Dont argue with them

If you begin to get into an argument where you lose control and your tone of voice where you begin yelling and screaming, then your child will lose more respect for you.

Onethey will see that they can get you off your game and bend to their will.

And twothey will see that you are not in control of your emotions

4. Dont blame them

While this is similar to not invalidating them, its a little bit different.

In this case, you dont want to point the finger at them and tell them they are wrong and bad.

In other words, dont judge them as this will just make them more furious and add more gasoline to their fire.

5. Dont use sarcasm

Did you know that sarcasm is the number one reason why most relationships fail?

6. Dont be negative

7. Schedule a time later in the day to talk

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What Should I Do If My Child With Autism Hits Me

If youre here, you likely need answers regarding your childs aggressive behavior. Before we dive into our tips for how to stop an autistic child from hitting, you must understand why this occurs in the first place.

Unable to express their thoughts or feelings in words, children with autism may lash out and hit, scratch, or bite their parents or siblings. Hitting can range from an open-handed slap to a closed-fisted punch, and some outbursts may even injure themselves or others.

Many things can trigger aggressive behaviors like hitting, scratching, and biting, but these are some of the most common in children with autism:

  • Feeling very anxious or stressed
  • Trying to communicate
  • Sensory overload or sensitivity
  • Not understanding whats going on around them.

Once we understand why children with autism behave aggressively, we can work toward prevention and treatment. First, we need to discuss appropriate ways of dealing with aggressive and violent behaviors in children with autism.

When A Particular Person Is Targeted

How to Handle an Aggressive Autistic Child

If a particular family member or support worker seems to be the target for challenging behaviour, think about what might be triggering it. It might be that a perfume scent is overwhelming, or that the other person is associated with a distressing activity.

Maybe the person is upset when the support worker or family member spends time with other people. If so, you could try scheduling some time specifically for them to spend together and showing this on a visual timetable. Very strict boundaries need to be kept as to when this will happen and for how long. It may be useful to have a sand timer so that the person knows that the time is up when the sand runs out.

There may simply a personality clash between the person and a staff member. If this may be the case, consider whether this staff member could work with other people instead?

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How To Help An Angry Autistic Person

wikiHow is a wiki, similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. To create this article, volunteer authors worked to edit and improve it over time.There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 16,098 times.Learn more…

Autistic people may experience anger differently. While some are calm by nature, others easily fly off the handle and struggle to control their anger. Dealing with someone who is frustrated or upset can be difficult, but approaching them with some understanding and good will can make all the difference.

Treatment For Aggressive Children With Autism

Knowing how to stop an autistic child from hitting is key. Aggressive behavior can hinder a childs progress at school, at home, and in social interactions. If your child has an autism diagnosis and is engaging in aggressive behaviors, seek treatment options as soon as possible.

The earlier the intervention , the greater your childs chances of developing alongside their peers and becoming independent.

At Therapeutic Pathways, our Board-Certified Behavior Analysts put together an ABA treatment plan for each child engaging in aggressive behaviors. We work diligently to remediate harmful behaviors and encourage children to engage in safer, more appropriate behaviors.

For more information and to learn more about our ABA methods, contact Therapeutic Pathways at 422-3280 to see if our Behavior Center program is right for your child.

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Tips For Coping With An Aggressive Child

How to manage aggressive child behavior? – Dr. Sulata Shenoy

A mother in our group has written this excellent guide to coping with an aggressive child in order to help other parents who may be in a similar situation.

These are some tips that I have picked up along our journey. I am by no means an expert, but there are some things that I learnt the hard way and Im hoping that by listing them here, I might be able to help other parents who are in our situation.

1: It isnt your fault

This sounds obvious, but it is really hard to remember this when your child is shouting at and hurting you. It truly isnt your fault dont waste energy beating yourself up over it and trying to work out what you may have done wrong. If you are reading this and trying to do something to help your child, then you are a fantastic parent and I really hope the following helps.

2: Behaviour is communication

It may be hard to believe at the moment, but children use behaviour as communication, they dont usually wake up in the morning determined to make life hard. I found that once I understood this, I had a lot more patience with my son. One of the best ways that I have heard autistic behaviour described is the Coke Bottle Effect. Imagine your child is like a Coke bottle every time that something causes them stress is like one shake of the bottle until eventually the bottle explodes.

3: Keep a diary

4: Keep siblings safe

5: Be prepared to make lifestyle adjustments

6: Dont be afraid to talk about the aggression

7: When its ended, its ended

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How To Handle An Aggressive Autistic Child

This article was written by Luna Rose. Luna Rose is an autistic community member who specializes in writing and autism. She holds a degree in Informatics and has spoken at college events to improve understanding about disabilities. Luna Rose leads wikiHow’s Autism Project.There are 33 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 41,985 times.

Autistic children tend to be non-aggressive by nature, but sometimes a child turns aggressive when under extreme stress. It’s natural to feel a mix of emotions about this, from worry to guilt to fear. This wikiHow will guide you in handling a difficult situation and helping a suffering child.

This article focuses on children who lash out at others. If the child is only hurting themselves, check out How to Redirect an Autistic Child’s Harmful Stims.

About Aggressive Behaviour And Self

Autistic children sometimes express their emotions through aggressive behaviour towards others. Sometimes their aggressive behaviour can be directed towards themselves. This is called self-injurious behaviour. They might hit, kick, throw objects or hurt themselves for example, by head-banging.

Autistic children might behave aggressively or hurt themselves because they:

  • have trouble understanding whats happening around them for example, what other people are saying or communicating non-verbally
  • have difficulty communicating their own wants and needs
  • are very anxious and stressed
  • have sensory sensitivities, like an oversensitivity to noise or a need for stimulation
  • want to escape from stressful situations or activities.

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Faq: Dealing With Aggression

Welcome to a week long set of posts dedicated to your frequently asked questions. I pulled these reoccurring themes from emails, comments, and facebook. If a bunch of people have the same concern there are probably more of you too! Figured Id start with a bang literally how to deal with aggression. Aggression is hands down the most critical, important, and time sensitive issue to deal with in your classroom1 Because lets be honest it doesnt matter how organized you are, what math curriculum you are using, how you are charting your data if you are getting punched in the face. Right? Before you can even think of tackling any other issues you have GOT to decrease aggression.

If you were hoping for a magic cure all solution in this post Im sad to disappoint you. But you can follow the same steps with all aggressive behaviors to determine the appropriate intervention.

Determine the Function of the Behavior

Bottom line: All behaviors are done to get something. Every behavior in life. I scratch my nose to relieve the itch, I push the door shut to remove the cold breeze, I text on my phone to access attention from friends. Its the same with aggression. Every behavior has a function . You need to figure out the function of aggression before intervening. Check out this post for more detailed info on identifying function. It basically comes down to two options, the aggressive behaviors are done to:

  • to try to gain access to something
  • Rule Out Or Address Underlying Medical And Sensory Problems

    How to Deal with a Child with ODD: 6 Strategies

    First and foremost, its important to have your child evaluated for underlying medical and sensory issues that may be contributing to the meltdowns. Examples include the pain of GI distress, disrupted sleep and sensitivities to a jarring new school environment. So if you havent already, please consult with your childs therapist and physician about evaluation possibilities.

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    Lost & Afraid: Where To Turn When Autism Turns Violent

    The Dark Side of Autism — Violence, Assault, Police Interaction.My wife and mother-in-law think that he’ll come out of the autism to a degree, but I don’t see it. They’re basing this hope on my sister-in-law coming out of her shell to a degree, but she only has Aspberger’s and not full-blown autism. On top of that, in the eight years I’ve known him I’ve only ever seen him get worse. It has me wondering what would have to happen before they finally admit he’s dangerous. Does someone have to get seriously injured in one of his attacks?I’m trying not to resent him, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult. His violent behavior towards everyone around him has me afraid for my daughter’s safety. Because my wife is stuck watching him constantly, she can’t get a job, and we’re struggling financially. Any time I try to talk to her about the situation, I’m either met with hostility or silence.Read the full article HERE.

    Ensuring Your Child Receives Proper Medical Care

    As parents, we must understand that behavior is a form of communication. In other words, our kids are not purposefully hurting themselves or others. While many doctors dismiss behavior as just part of autism, our children often use their behavior to communicate to us that they are in pain or don’t feel well.

    Therefore, it is crucial to see that your child receives a complete medical workup by:

    • Finding and working with a doctor who can effectively identify and address any underlying medical issues that cause or contribute to aggression.
    • Read more about Finding a Doctor here.
  • Familiarizing yourself with the signs and symptoms of medical issues that trigger aggression so you can effectively advocate for your child in medical settings.
  • A qualified and experienced functional medicine doctor and other specialists can help you pinpoint how to address aggressive behavior medically. If you need to add a gastroenterologist, neurologist, immunologist, or another specialist to your child’s team, please look for providers who are knowledgeable about autism.

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    Vitamin And Mineral Deficiencies

    Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are another medical issue that can cause aggression. When trying to determine if a vitamin or mineral deficiency is causing your child’s aggressive behavior, please be sure to ask their doctor about lithium, potassium, folate, and magnesium.


    To demonstrate how lithium impacts behavior, here is a study showing that cities with no-to-little lithium in their drinking water have more crime, suicides, and arrests than those cities that had a bit more lithium added.

    If your child is low in lithium, their doctor may put them on lithium orotate, an essential trace element. It is the low dose supplement form of lithium.


    Low potassium, also known as hypokalemia, can also cause aggression, depression, or even hallucination. Potassium levels can drop for several reasons. For example, some medications, such as diuretics, can cause low potassium. Also, consistent or prolonged diarrhea can cause low potassium levels, as can sweating.

    Electrolytes for re-hydrating are essential but be sure they are not high in sugar. Coconut water is a great natural electrolyte water. There are many low sugar options you can purchase in health food stores.


    Low folate in the brain can cause irritability and anxiety that can lead to aggression if it goes untreated. To learn more, please see TACA’s article dedicated to Cerebral Folate Deficiency.


    Transporting Your Child Or Adult With Autism To The Hospital Yourself

    How To Handle Severe Special Needs Behaviors With Your Child / Tips For Parents (Autism Podcast)

    Sometimes the police will not cooperate, or you have determined that you do not wish to involve the police for some other reason. Transporting a child or adult with autism who is in a crisis is not a task for the feint of heart and it should not be done alone. An out-of-control person in a car is a recipe for disaster – please do not attempt this alone. You may be able to call an ambulance or even a cab to transport. At least in those situations you will be free to restrain the person if necessary.

    If you must transport the person to a hospital or other program, you will need help. Prior to this step you should identify someone in your family or circle of friends who is fearless, physically large and fit, and will agree to come with you and supervise your child or adult with autism in this situation. Call this person and tell him or her to come over immediately for the transport. Depending upon the size and/or strength of your child or adult with autism, you may need to arrange two people for this task. Do not tell your child or adult with autism what you are up to. When the person arrives, let him take over with your child or adult with autism as you go to prepare the car. Tell the person to come when you honk the horn.

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