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

8 comments:

  1. Any advise on how to with a child who behaves this way.

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    1. I am very anti medication. BUT my son responded very well to antidepressants. Anger can be a symptom of depression. Let's face it, if you are feeling alienated, excluded, picked on you would feel depressed. It seems like teen years are just the time for this to reach a tipping point. Kids are meanest at this age, you go through so many changes, demands on you increase, change is hard for people let alone throwing autism in the mix. Finding a good autism-experienced therapist is imperative. I don't know if they have life skills groups that cater to kids with autism but they really should. I really try to wait until my son is calm to try to talk to him. if it sets him off, I back off and try later. It has to be addressed but done with respect and a sincere attempt at trying to understand what they are going through that led to the behavior. I also ask what he plans to do to fix it. What does he think he should do differently? I try to partner with him versus tell him what to do. In a partnering role you are far less likely to make him feel like it is him vs the world and more like the 2 of you vs the world. I also like to sneak advice in by telling stories about other people and trying to get him to come to the advice I want to give him. My son responds very well to this approach. I also can directly tell him for example "when your brother says he doesn't want to talk about his break up with his girlfriend he is telling you not now. if you continue you will make him mad. you can ask him to come talk to you when he is ready if you think that is a good idea." but we had to work hard to get him to that point. we also spend a LOT of time talking just about whatever so we are very close. It may not work for everyone. I have worked with kids with autism professionally and I know there is not one like the other. I hate the term "autistics" or "aspies" like they aren't like "normal" people. they have struggles but they deserve everything we all do and not to be thought of as that different. language matters because it subtly affects how we all think about things-research on this supports this as true.

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  2. My daughter is 12 years old and has been progressively becoming violent. It began as verbal then tonight it was physical against her best friend.
    I honestly do not know what to do? She also started scratching herself as well.i am at a loss of words and ideas. She refuses to talk to me or anyone else about these issues.

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    1. Hello, How is your daughter since your last post?

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    2. That's when my, now 14 year old son, started with the same type of behavior. Without therapy, it gets worse. Typical treatment centers sometimes makes our type of childrens issues worse. Getting in contact with developmental disabilities services in your area and asking for crisis intervention in your home, could be a life saver for you both. I hope it gets better. No one loves our kids like we do and it's so difficult to get the right kind of help. Dont give up. You're doing your best.

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  3. Hello, I’m looking for advice. How is your daughter doing?

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  4. I’m stuck between two aspires my undiagnosed husband and our diagnosed teen son who lashes out at his dad then we have a younger sibling who is adhd as well so it’s like a circus around here. I’m the aspies calming person however that then creates havoc with my spouse. When the eruption breaks out I’m the one who has to try to diffuse the situation while because he is aspie too he tries to win the argument and defend him self causing more fuel to the fire. Then he tries to involve his family which upsets the teen aspie. Help!!!

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  5. Call Develipmental dissabilities office and ask for services. They can have a behavioral health worker come into your home(if it's hard to get your teen to go to counseling) and set up a plan.

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