5 Steps to Take When Your Child With Autism Becomes Aggressive

Aggression in children with autism, often more prevalent than with neurotypical children, can be a distressing challenge for families. Fear of potential behaviors, and the resulting embarrassment and stress, can significantly limit family outings. As these children grow, their physical strength increases, making it more difficult and sometimes impossible for parents to manage the aggressive outbursts.

For those reasons, understanding and addressing this behavior is crucial for the well-being of both the child and the family. The good news: there are well-trodden steps to take to resolve this issue, and improve the harmony in your home. 

  1. Rule Out Medical Issues

Before anything else, it’s helpful to rule out any underlying medical conditions that might be causing or contributing to aggressive behavior. Issues such as chronic pain, gastrointestinal discomfort, or even dental problems can manifest as aggression in autistic children who may have difficulty communicating their discomfort.

Don’t hesitate to bring up your concerns with your child’s pediatrician or developmental pediatrician for help identifying and potentially treating any underlying health issues.

  1. Document The Behaviors

Keeping a record of aggressive incidents can provide you with valuable insights to use moving forward. Record the frequency, timing, and context of each incident, who is involved, and the specific nature of the aggression (e.g., hitting, biting, or kicking). This documentation can help identify patterns and triggers, making it easier to address the root causes.

Also, note the circumstances under which the child does not exhibit aggressive behavior. This will give you a clue as to when your child feels more regulated and in control.

  1. Examine Potential Reasons For The Behaviors

Aggressive behavior can stem from a variety of factors. For that reason, after you have spent some time documenting, you will use your records to clue you in on the “why” for the behavior. 

Common reasons for aggression among children on the autism spectrum are:

  • Sensory overload
  • Difficulty with communication
  • Being denied something they want
  • Unexpected changes in routine
  • A desire for attention

Understanding these triggers is crucial in developing strategies to manage and eventually reduce aggressive behavior.

  1. Positively Reinforce Alternate Behaviors

Positive reinforcement of desirable behaviors is a powerful tool for those on the autism spectrum. When the child engages in appropriate behaviors, immediate and consistent rewards can reinforce these actions and communicate to them the expectation.

This approach not only encourages making appropriate choices but also provides the child with alternative ways to express their needs and frustrations, reducing reliance on aggression as a form of communication.

  1. Consider ABA Therapy To Target Aggression

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy has proven effective in reducing aggressive behavior in autistic children. It involves understanding the reasons behind behaviors and using positive reinforcement to encourage desirable actions. 

ABA therapists work with the child and the family to develop personalized strategies that address specific behavioral challenges, including aggression. 

Managing aggression in autistic children requires a comprehensive and patient approach. The ABA therapists at Ready Set Connect create learning objectives based on thorough evaluation for each child, while offering the child support, compassion, and patience.

For more information about our program, reach out here.