A study on the development of anger and aggression in children with autism found that it may be harder for them to control their emotions. This is due to a lack of amygdala function. The amygdala works as an important part of the brain’s emotion regulation system, which typically helps us identify fear or calmness when we see someone else tense up while talking about something they’re afraid might happen. Children with autism struggle to read others’ facial expressions, causing them more difficulty regulating their own emotions.,
Autism is a developmental disorder that affects the way people communicate, interact and relate. This issue has caused many parents to wonder why their children have anger issues. The answer may lie in the fact that autism can cause aggression.
Children with autism are often misunderstood. What seems to be an angry outburst might be the result of communication issues, worry, or stress.
People with autism are frequently creature of habit, preferring structure and timetables that are predictable. Unexpected changes, difficulty communicating properly, and disruptions to habit may all be unpleasant, leading to angry outbursts.
When autistic youngsters are unable to articulate themselves, they may lash out in rage. Patterns of repeated acts that are typical of autism may also be aggressive or self-harming behaviors.
While autism-related rage and hostility may be frightening for all parties involved, treatment can be very beneficial. Therapy may help autistic children better manage their emotions, including anger, through increasing communication and social skills, as well as moderating potentially detrimental repeated behaviors.
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) may help to minimize the frequency of this behavior in many circumstances.
Anger, Aggression & Autism
Aggression is one of the signs of autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One out of every four children with autism is affected by aggressive conduct.
Aggressive outbursts may be difficult for people with autism. Boys are more likely than females to display hostility in neurotypical children. Girls with autism, on the other hand, are just as prone as males on the spectrum to be aggressive.
Aggression and rage are frequent in people with autism at all levels. Children who have more serious social and communication difficulties, as well as those who engage in more repeated activities, are more likely to have emotional control disorders and behave aggressively.
Anger and violence are two of the most troublesome aspects of autism. It may cause problems at school and at home, as well as cause injury to the kid and others. Aggression may be aimed towards others, such as caretakers or classmates, or it can be directed against oneself, such as self-harm.
One of a parent’s most crucial responsibilities is to keep their kid, as well as others around them, safe and healthy. When a kid with autism suffers with rage and aggressiveness on a regular basis, it’s critical for parents to understand what causes these outbursts. Methods to handle the triggers may be introduced after the triggers have been discovered.
Forms of Anger & Aggression
Anger and aggressiveness may manifest itself in the following ways:
Aggressive behaviors may lead to a slew of extra problems for someone with autism, including the following:
Life quality has deteriorated.
Access to educational and social assistance is limited.
Stress levels have risen.
Additional issues with conduct
Aggression as a Communication Tool
Communication issues, both verbal and nonverbal, are some of the most common signs of autism. When a youngster is unable to adequately communicate what they want, frustration, anger, and finally hostility may result.
An autistic child’s aggressive outbursts may indicate that he or she does not want to do anything or is upset with changes in their schedule, surroundings, or habit. In reaction to an unanticipated disruption in their normal routine, they may have a meltdown and damage the room.
Aggressive conduct might be aimed against a peer who causes an autistic youngster to be disrupted. They might be aimed at a caregiver for attempting to transition a youngster from one activity to the next.
Autism-related rage is often impulsive. Aggressive conduct isn’t planned ahead of time. It’s the child’s immediate reaction.
Aggression may be used by an autistic kid or teenager to achieve their goals. Aggressive outbursts, for example, might lead to the youngster engaging in repeated activities in which they seek consolation. In certain circumstances, such as head pounding against a wall, these repeated activities may be dangerous in and of themselves.
Issues at the Root
Autism often co-occurs with other conditions, such as physical concerns such as gastrointestinal problems and Problems with sleep.
Autistic children who are unwell or weary, in pain, or who have worry may have more difficulty managing their anger, which may express as violence. Communication and language difficulties in autistic people may exacerbate these problems.
Just like with neurotypical people, Issues at the Root can trigger anger and aggressive outbursts among those with autism. These issues include the following:
Anxiety and sadness are examples of undiagnosed mental health concerns.
Problems with sleep
Sensory stimuli that are too many to handle
Interruptions in the routine
The first step is to identify these aggressive behavior triggers. Parents, teachers, therapists, and caregivers may help to lessen the possibility of these triggers, which will reduce the frequency of violent behavior. The youngster may then learn to better regulate their emotions via therapy.
Treatment & Prevention Measures
Treatment for autism-related aggressiveness is determined by the underlying reason. It will be different for each person.
Specific medical and mental health therapies may assist if violent outbursts are linked to an underlying medical or mental health condition. Medications may assist with gastrointestinal troubles, sleep problems, and mood and anxiety disorders.
Beyond pharmacological interventions to address Medical problems, therapy is crucial. Therapists can teach children how to prevent anger from escalating into aggression. Children can learn how to recognize their own triggers and ways to regulate their emotions. This often involves expressing their feelings in other ways that aren’t violent.
Emotional regulation, coping skills, and anger control may all benefit from behavioral therapies like applied behavior analysis (ABA) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
In order to assist good transformation, CBT helps individuals notice their emotions and how they are linked to their behaviors.
ABA is widely regarded as one of the most effective therapies for teaching desirable behaviors to children with autism via positive reinforcement.
Applied Behavior Analysis to Manage Anger & Aggression
ABA has been shown to be useful in both lowering and completely removing aggressive behaviour. It’s a really adaptable intervention. It may be used in combination with other treatments, but it can also be utilized as a stand-alone therapy option.
In a nutshell, ABA shapes a child’s behavior via positive reinforcement. The treatment may offer coping strategies for emotional management as well as non-aggressive communication approaches. Instead of resorting to harsh means, this may assist a youngster in learning more effective communication methods.
Improve your social abilities.
Improve self-reliance, develop self-care skills, and encourage independence.
Improve your academic achievement as well as your cognitive talents.
Improve your language and communication abilities.
Improve your motor skills.
ABA is a highly flexible intervention that may be used in a number of situations and is adjusted to the needs of the person. The sooner a kid receives therapy, the better he or she will be able to learn and implement more effective coping and anger control techniques.
Anger is a natural response to pain or discomfort. It can be triggered by a number of factors, including the loss of something important, or when someone hurts us. The “three causes of anger” are: physical pain, emotional distress, and social rejection.
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Janice is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Special Education. She also holds a Master of Science in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) from Queen’s University, Belfast. She has worked with and case managed children and youth with autism and other intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in home and residential setting since 2013.