Violent Behavior in Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

“Is it common for aspergers teenagers to retaliate (sometimes violently) when they feel that they are being mistreated by siblings, peers, etc.?”

Common? No. Does it happen? Yes.

Most juveniles with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) have strict codes of behavior that often include a dislike or even hatred of violence. Even among them, however, aggression can be a problem when the juvenile or young adult becomes frustrated, feels unfairly treated, or feels excluded. Juveniles with AS and HFA can persuade themselves that aggression is justified in these circumstances. Aggression toward younger siblings may be a problem, as may aggression at school, but the usual arena is at home.



This kind of aggression may be explosive, in which case there is often a sharp onset and a sharp offset. The AS or HFA juvenile may be even more unaware of the impact of his aggression than others who have tantrums. Parents often say something like this: “He calmed down quickly, long before we could feel calm. He just seems to want to carry on as if nothing had happened. If we try to talk about the tantrum, we might set him off again.”

Aggression of this kind may begin at an early age, and moms and dads find it difficult to deal with. Counter-violence makes matters worse, but it is a solution that often appeals to fathers. Withdrawal during the tantrum, and then discussing how it felt to be on the receiving end of it, are often useful. But living with this level of aggression can be one of the most difficult aspects of raising a child on the autism spectrum.

These juveniles have a lively sense of self-preservation. They may therefore suppress an aggressive response to a bully or another aggressor, but turn the aggression on to a more vulnerable person later, who may have had nothing to do with the situation. The target of aggression is most likely to be a juvenile's mother, or later in life, a spouse.

Emotional processing is difficult for AS and HFA juveniles. They can’t tell themselves to “just forget it” or “life's too short to worry so much.” They want answers – and they want justice. Incidents that have happened in the past (sometimes many years before) may linger in the mind of an adult with AS and may resurface at regular intervals (called “rumination”). When they do, it is as if the individual is re-experiencing the episode over again, and he may become suddenly and unexpectedly aggressive.



==> Discipline for Defiant Aspergers Teens

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