The blink of an eye: Autism and aggression

~Autism and aggression~

I have blogged many times about the injuries we deal with as a result of meltdowns and rages associated with Autism. Right now the main aggressor in the house is Emmett. Gavin is by far the most violent but as of late he only “attacks” himself. Emmett on the other hand typically goes after Lizze and Elliott. No one knows exactly why that is but there are schools of thought. It’s most likely due to the frustration of not being able to effectively communicate. If that’s true then why is it typically Lizze and Elliott that get “attacked”?

Often times these “attacks” are completely unprovoked and seemingly come out of nowhere. Sometimes the injuries are pretty bad. Lizze gets cuts on her face and neck. Elliott gets the same but also on his back as well. Elliott was hit in the face. Emmett was upset about something so he through what he had in his hands at Elliott and hit him right above his eye. Luckily, it just missed his eye. We are working really hard to figure out how to properly address these situations…..and….NO….spanking WILL NOT work.

~Triggers for Autism related outbursts~

Why are so many people so quick to address violence with more violence? It simply doesn’t work, especially with Autistic kids.. What DOES work is redirection but that takes a great deal of effort. Also understanding the “triggers” will help to reduce the behavior. Did you know that most Autism related meltdowns are simply the result of over-stimulation. Basically, this means that an Autistic child has absorbed SO much of the world around them they simply can’t cope. Imagine if you heard every single sound around you and that sound was so loud it hurt your ears (clocks ticking and lights humming). What if the lights around you were so bright you could barely see? These are just a few of the things that are constantly assaulting kids with Autism on a sensory level. 

When you identify a trigger you can work to reduce or eliminate what is overwhelming your child and potentially reducing the outbursts as well. It takes time, patience and understanding to work through these situations. It is, however, very rewarding. Not only are you reducing the meltdowns but you are providing your child relief from whatever is causing them pain and discomfort.

While understanding these behaviors is a step in the right direction the behaviors themselves still need to be addressed. Violence shouldn’t be tolerated and there are consequences for hurting others. The consequences should be appropriate for the child and the situation (you are the best judge of that). We have to teach our kids different, more appropriate ways of coping with stress. People have the right to feel and actually be safe from violent outbursts. In my house when Emmett attacks someone we intervene as quickly as possible and attempt to redirect him. Emmett is a tough situation because of the significant language barrier, so we have to improvise. We are working on the root problem which is, communication and language. OT has started as well, so we are addressing the sensory issues at the same time. Hopefully over time we can reduce or eliminate these outbursts so things like what happened to Elliott’s eye don’t happen again.

The important thing to remember is NOT to respond to Autism related outbursts with more violence. It doesn’t work and it sends the WRONG message.


Rob Gorski

Full time, work from home single Dad to my 3 amazing boys. Oh...and creator fo this blog. :-)
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