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How do I help my child with extreme aggression?

how to help child with autism stop aggression

There is no single way to reduce extreme aggression or violence in children with autism, but you don’t have to try and resolve it alone. When a child with autism is acting aggressively, the best course of action is to seek professional help from a renowned behavior therapy center

There are some instances where you can reduce the behavior at home, and others where you absolutely need outside intervention. Keep reading to learn more about the situations where outside intervention is the best option. Then, call Therapeutic Pathways at (209) 422-3280 to learn more.


When to Seek Help

Many individuals with autism who engage in aggressive or violent behaviors often do so because of their frustrations with being unable to effectively communicate. Unable to voice their ideas or desires, they may resort to punching, kicking, or slapping to get the point across.

These aggressive behaviors often impair the individual’s social relationships at home, school, and in the community. When there are extremely violent tendencies, the caregiver may be in danger. Sometimes, the aggressive individual could put themselves at risk if they engage in self-injurious behaviors.

You should seek help for your child with autism if their aggressive behavior is causing significant risks to themselves or those around them. For example, if you believe your child or your family members are at risk of being injured due to the aggressive behavior, contact a behavior center as soon as possible. Even if the aggressive behavior happened only once, it’s important to seek professional help.

In the meantime, here are some ways to manage aggressive behavior at home. Remember that treatment is very important in cases of extreme aggression; you should use these techniques if you are waiting to speak with a professional or in the days leading up to your child’s first visit.


Rule out any dental or medical issues.

Sometimes, aggressive behavior in children with autism can be due to an underlying health condition like cavities or ear infections. If your child is constantly biting or spitting, they may feel pain in their mouth that should be checked out by a doctor. If your child keeps hitting their head against the wall, they may have severe ear pain requiring medical attention.


Respond to the behavior consistently. 

If you deal with your child’s aggressive behavior one way on Monday and a completely different way on Tuesday, they will likely be confused and even more frustrated, leading to more severe or other types of aggressive behavior. 

Respond to your child’s aggression quickly. Use your forearm or a soft surface such as a pillow to stop your child from hitting themselves, and limit your verbal expressions. Don’t shout, and try to use as few words as possible. You should also refrain from making facial expressions, as this may inadvertently reinforce their aggressive behavior.


Communicate effectively.

As mentioned above, limit your verbal communication as much as possible. If you can speak to your child gently and in shorter sentences, they will likely be able to process what you’re saying easily. 

You can also introduce a nonverbal system of communication, such as an iPad or blackboard to communicate their emotions or discomfort.


Provide alternate sensory opportunities. 

For children who engage in mild self-injurious behaviors (SIB) to get their ideas or emotions across, you can provide safer, alternative opportunities that will keep them and yourself safe. 

For example, if your child continually picks at their skin, you can give them slime or a fidget toy to distract them. For a child who consistently hits their head, even when they’re happy, you can give them a sensory bin to teach them to do something else with their hands.


Find out if a specific person is triggering the behavior.

If a specific family member seems to be the target of your child’s aggression, it could be due to a trigger that overwhelms them. For example, if your grandmother lives with you and wears a strong perfume, your child’s senses may be overwhelmed and, unable to effectively communicate that, they may lash out at that family member. Discovering these triggers may help alleviate some of the aggressive behaviors.


How to Help a Child With Autism Stop Aggression

Aggressive behavior can be confusing and frustrating, but there is help for your child with autism. If your child has been diagnosed with autism and is displaying aggressive or violent behaviors, they may benefit from treatment at Therapeutic Pathway’s Behavior Center. We help children with autism and severe behavior disorders develop safer, alternate behaviors that keep themselves and their family members safe.

If your child is acting aggressively, contact Therapeutic Pathways today at (209) 422-3280.