Aggression in Aspergers Teens

Adolescents with Aspergers (high-functioning autism) are often not found to be physically aggressive unless they feel threatened in some manner. For some kids with Aspergers, aggression may become quite common when reaching adolescence, and this may be clearly influenced by the parenting styles of the youngster's mother and/or father. 
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Anonymous said...

i have a 13vyearold grandson with high functioning aspergers. he has been having anger issues. he punches walls, inanimate objects. i have been involved in his upbringing since he was 1 week old. tonight he had an episode because he has a friend over and goofing off another younger got a busted lip. i told his mother and he cursed me and hit the wall looking at me. i have never been afraid of him before, but after this episode i am frightened.the boy visiting him is very hyper and the only time the grandson acts out is when this one boy is around. i have had the worst weekend of my life, this boy plays hard rap, which my grandson does not usually listen too. i live with my daughter to help her with him and his younger siblings, , i am afraid to go to sleep now, and he admires this boy whom influences him much......i just do not know what to do anymore. now i feel he will hurt me. his mother fights against having him medicated.

Kenny Turck, CEO Crow River Family Services, LLC said...

Dear Anonymous,

First and foremost, if you truly feel unsafe you should contact a friend to stay with and contact county social services--you can do this anonymously too if you'd feel more comfortable and explain to them that you have concerns for your own and others' safety when your grandson acts out. (you don't have to say grandson)

Next, if you're daughter wants your help she needs to understand that her son hanging around with this other youth is not good right now for your grandson and together you need to set clear and firm limits with him but at a time when things are calm and expectations can be delivered in a concise but thoughtful manner (a harsh voice tone/scolding would NOT be the way to go). You may also feel more comfortable having someone else be present at this time.

I do not know what state you live in but many states have children's mental health programs that are community-based where providers come into your home and take kids out into the community and teach them social, life, and self-regulation skills that they are lacking as a result of their mental health issues.

You may also wish to speak to a public health nurse or local clergy to learn about more programs in your area. Opportunities for your grandson to participate in safe, structured, cohesive group experiences would likely be very beneficial in developing a positive social context for his adolescent years. Experiential learning opportunities (learning by doing) is a powerful and interesting/fun way to learn, practice, and master social, life, and self-regulation skills.

Erik Erikson, a renowned psychologist in his 1970 book "Identity, Youth, and Crisis" suggests identity development occurs in adolescents but not outside of a social context. In other words, if your grandson is hanging out with kids who are bad influences or good influences--these ingredients make up is "social context" and are very powerful in developing his identity--many kids with ASD struggle to fit in or would rather do more solitary things, or hyper-focus on one idea or theme; however the need and desire for belonging, fitting in for many ASD kids is just like any other kid--they want to fit in. Because many kids with ASD don't feel like they fit in, have many friends, get picked on, or feel left out (and many times are)--this new boy your grandson is hanging out with--is likely something very cool your grandson is experiencing. Having a friend that wants to have fun and hang out with me! Unfortunately, neither of them have the necessary self-regulation skills at this time to recognize their behavior as out of line, inappropriate, etc. (for the setting)--so back to Erikson and helping your daughter understand HOW IMPORTANT it is to really work hard to create the best social context for your grandson to learn important social, life, and self-regulation issues and this boy may not be the best influence for him right now.
Thank you for helping to raise your grandkids--you are to be commended! Sometimes we all need breaks though--and some breaks are longer than others. I hope this was a bit helpful and not too scattered--past my bedtime :)

Vette taylor said...

I know this very well. Behavior modification and counseling is what I suggest or you will become his victim. He has the potential to get violent with you in the future. Every child is different. 16 years here of experience here. You can love, support, and have the mostly loving atmosphere but sometimes it is not enough.

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