Aggression in autism can involve severe tantrums, anger, hostility, sudden-onset violent outbursts including self-harm and rage 'episodes'. Up to 20% of individuals with autism exhibit such violent behaviours.
Aggression, such as hitting, biting, scratching, hair-pulling, or kicking another person, is relatively common in children on the autism spectrum. A study of children and teenagers with autism found that 68 percent had been aggressive to a caregiver, and 49 percent had been aggressive to someone else, at some point.
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.
Adults diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), including Asperger's and autism, are prone to anger outbursts. An 'on-off' quality during which individuals may be calm one second and then have an autism outburst in the next is common.
Many autistic people have meltdowns. The public often finds it hard to tell autism meltdowns and temper tantrums apart, but they are very different things. If your family member or the person you support has meltdowns, find out how to anticipate them, identify their causes and minimise their frequency.
People with high functioning autism often are aware of their challenges and social deficiencies, sometimes causing repetitive thoughts about this, leading to anger and possible aggression. Knowing how to deal with the anger and help your child find the tools to manage this will bring a sense of harmony and relief.
Children with autism are often unaware of their behaviors and struggle with reading the body language of others. Yelling at a child with autism can cause chronic levels of stress in the child and is not helpful in working towards a solution or strategy for change.
People with ASD often have problems with social communication and interaction, and restricted or repetitive behaviors or interests. People with ASD may also have different ways of learning, moving, or paying attention. It is important to note that some people without ASD might also have some of these symptoms.
The Triad of Impairments:
People with significant difficulties in all 3 areas (social interaction, communication and imagination) may have ASD. However, there can be other reasons for difficulties in these areas.
Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, are at increased risk for engaging in problem behavior such as self-injury, aggression, and property destruction. When these behaviors are intense and frequent, they can significantly impair a child's functioning.
It's common for autistic children to behave in challenging ways or ways that are difficult to manage. For example, autistic children and teenagers might: refuse or ignore requests. behave in socially inappropriate ways, like taking their clothes off in public.
Meltdowns are similar to the fight response. When an autistic person is having a meltdown they often have increased levels of anxiety and distress which are often interpreted as frustration, a 'tantrum' or an aggressive panic attack.
Two types of reaction are typical of autism meltdowns – an explosive reaction or a withdrawal. Explosive reactions may involve screaming, shouting, aggressive behaviour or crying. On the other hand, less explosive reactions may include refusing to communicate or interact, withdrawing themselves or shutting down.
Calmly redirect your child to a different method of communication. For example, if your child usually hits you to get your attention, you can instead instruct them to tap you on the arm and say “excuse me”. Only give your child direct acknowledgment (eye contact, etc.) when they engage in the appropriate behavior.
Lithium is another option for children and adolescents with ASD who present with symptoms of a mood disorder, such as elevated moods/euphoria, mania, and paranoia, whether accompanied or not by irritability.
High functioning autism (HFA) is a subtype of autism that describes individuals with average or above-average intelligence and language skills, but who still struggle with social communication and behavior. Like other forms of autism, HFA symptoms can change over time, but it does not necessarily get worse with age.
Level 3 is the most severe level of autism. People with level 3 autism have limited ability to speak clearly. Difficulty with both verbal and nonverbal communication makes it challenging to interact with others. This level of autism requires a higher level of support throughout life.
Some autistic children and young people can display behaviour that puts themselves - or someone else - at risk. This is commonly known as a 'behaviour that challenges'. Common examples of this behaviour include: Physically challenging behaviours - such as hitting, biting, spitting or pulling hair.
The most common signs include problems with back-and-forth conversation, trouble with social relationships, repetitive actions, self-stimulating behaviors, limited interests, and being very sensitive.