Children with autism spectrum disorder usually don’t express anxiety, fear, frustration, or anger in the same way as their neuro-typical peers. Aggressive autistic behavior is not uncommon among children having the disorder because that’s the way they express their feelings. Even children with mild autistic symptoms may sometimes become aggressive towards themselves. This is known as self-injurious behavior. They may kick, hit, or throw objects to hurt themselves. Head-banging is a common trait in many autistic children.
Managing aggressive autistic behavior
You may not able to entirely prevent all outbursts. But you can surely control the aggressive behavior to a great extent.
The first thing is to keep calm. Autistic kids cause tantrums when they can’t communicate the buildup of feelings. By staying calm and managing your own feelings, you won’t add your own emotions to the situation.
Autistic kids are stressed out during an emotional outburst. They can’t process what’s being communicated to them. This is more true for those children who face difficulties to understand language. It usually helps in limiting what you say to just a few words or a short phrase. For instance, “sit down” is more suitable to address the situation than saying, “Steve, come here and sit down please.”
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You may have to move the child to a safer place to keep him/her away from anything that may hurt physically, like glass objects, sharp-edged corners and similar things. A separate room or an enclosed space could be a good option when your child becomes agressive. You may have to move other people to keep them safe from any reaction of your autistic child.
Sometimes, you may have to resort to physical restraint to control aggressive autistic behavior. But first speak to your child’s behavioral therapist or pediatrician before applying such restraint. It could make the situation worse if applied without expert advice.