My son is 10 years old and awaiting an Aspergers diagnosis. He frequently misinterprets the actions of others and becomes quite angry. He loses his temper frequently. How can we help him?
Your son is experiencing a great deal of stress due to the symptoms of Asperger’s (high-functioning autism).
Some kids react by becoming depressed, some become anxious, and others become angry and experience rage against the frustrating events that occur in their day.
Some kids externalize their feelings and blame others, while some internalize their feelings and have a difficult time controlling their anger.
Their may be no particular event to his anger – just an aggressive mood or reaction to a frustrating experience.
Encourage self-control and teach your child to consider alternative behaviors.
Self-control can be strengthened by teaching your child to stop and count to ten, taking a deep breath and reminding themselves to keep calm.
Or for some children it is helpful that they have an agreed room or particular space that they take themselves too when they feel that they are getting anxious/angry.
Specific relaxation techniques can be practiced and your child can be taught the cues when they must calm down and relax. Explain the alternative to your child and in specific terms.
There are three stages to help your child when he/she is losing his temper:
1. Make a list of signals – Construct a list of the signals that indicate the person is becoming increasingly stressed (e.g. rocking, reddened face, pacing, shouting etc.).
2. Draw attention to the signals – Once these sign are recognized, the person’s attention must be drawn to their actions and behavior. The angry individual is usually the last to recognize the change in their behavior.
3. Find calming alternatives – Then construct a list of activities which will calm them and encourage them to participate in those behaviors.
Keep in mind that your son will most likely have difficulty expressing what is making him angry.
You will need to assess the situation to determine what may be provoking him.
Another alternative is to keep him engaged in activities that burn off energy and reduce his need to express the anger that he is feeling.
My Aspergers Child: Methods for Preventing Meltdowns
at Home and in the Classroom