Specific Parenting Techniques for Children and Teens with ASD Level 1

How to Handle "Out-of-Control" Children with ASD Level 1

"I need some strategies for dealing with an out of control 7 y.o. boy with autism [high functioning]!"

Moms and dads often ask how to deal with and help the ASD or high functioning autistic (HFA) youngster that seems to be out of control. How do you control or manage the youngster that intimidates, hits, punches and seems to enjoy torturing their siblings? What do you do with the youngster that argues, is defiant, and refuses to participate or follow directions can be difficult to live with and can create disharmony within the household?

Some moms and dads are at a loss as to what to do and where to go for help. They watch as their family life falls apart around them. They feel helpless as the defiant youngster controls the household. Moms and dads argue with each other about what to do. Some moms and dads may be afraid to go for help. 
They might feel that poor parenting skills have caused the problems or that they have failed as parents. Often one parent will blame the other for being too easy and letting the youngster get away with poor behavior and the other parent will feel as if the other is too harsh. It is possible for moms and dads to take control of the situation and help their youngster and their family. But it is hard work and many times a long road.

Believe In Yourself. Moms and dads know their children better than anyone. They see their potential, they see their strengths and they see their weaknesses. A teacher sees your youngster every day, but only in a certain location. They do not share the same history as a parent and an HFA youngster. You may become frustrated watching your youngster misbehave, but you have also seen your youngster sit quietly next to you on the couch and read a book. 
You see both the good and the bad in your youngster, and sometimes it can be confusing. Believe in your assessment of the situation. If you see something wrong, and you feel as if there is some unknown cause behind the bad behavior, seek help. Believe in yourself as a parent.

Disengage Yourself From Power Struggles At Home. This is probably the most difficult to accomplish. With kids that are defiant, it is common for the youngster and parent to become involved in power struggles. Finding ways to eliminate this can help both of you to cope better with your family and home situation.

Find A Support Group. Most HFA kids can be a handful from time to time, however, raising a challenging youngster can make moms and dads feel isolated and alone. They may avoid social situations, not sure how their youngster will react. When friends get together and talk about their kids, and their successes, moms and dads raising a challenging youngster may feel out of place and alone. Not wanting to always have to report the terrible thing your youngster did yesterday, you might stop contacting family. 
There are other moms and dads going through the same situation. Support groups around the country and on the internet can provide an outlet for moms and dads to share experiences and talk with one another. They can create a group to help one another through the rough days and feel accepted. They can create a ring of moms and dads that can listen, understand and accept you and your youngster can do wonders in helping you to cope better at home.

Get A Complete and Accurate Diagnosis. ASD often comes along with co-existing conditions. To receive the best possible treatment, it is important to have an accurate diagnosis. Some of the common conditions would be: Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, Depression, Learning Disabilities, Conduct Disorder, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. If your family physician diagnosed an autism spectrum disorder, ask for a referral to a mental health professional in your area that specializes in working with kids. 
You will want to have a complete evaluation done to determine an accurate diagnosis. Once this is completed, you can work with the doctors, or team of professionals, to create a specific treatment plan for your youngster. This may include counseling or therapy, medication, educational interventions and monitoring by a psychiatrist. Don’t stop until you are satisfied with the diagnosis.

Research the Diagnosis. After you are satisfied that you have received an accurate diagnosis, spend time researching and finding out as much as you can about the disorder. Use the support group you found to talk with other moms and dads. Talk to the psychologist/psychiatrist about treatment options. Don’t accept the advice of one practitioner or one other parent. 
Read everything you can find and determine what treatment would work best for your youngster and your family. Each youngster on the spectrum is unique in their display of symptoms and intensity of symptoms. Use this knowledge to work with the doctor to develop a treatment plan that is specific to your youngster’s needs.

Rule Out Physical Causes. Talk with your physician about exactly what is going on and have a complete physical for your youngster. Rule out any physical causes.

Seek A Tutor/Special Education/IEP or Section 504.HFA kids with behavioral problems often struggle in school. Some may have specific learning disabilities. Even without a learning disability, school may be difficult because of other symptoms such as distractibility. Request an educational evaluation to determine accommodations or modifications your youngster may be eligible for. Work closely with teachers and other school personnel to help your youngster succeed in school.

Teaching self-control skills is one of the most important things that moms and dads can do for their youngsters because these are some of the most important skills for success later in life.

Helping HFA Youngsters Learn Self-Control—

By learning self-control, youngsters can make appropriate decisions and respond to stressful situations in ways that can yield positive outcomes.

For example, if you say that you're not serving ice cream until after dinner, your youngster may cry, plead, or even scream in the hopes that you will give in. But with self-control, your youngster can understand that a temper tantrum means you'll take away the ice cream for good and that it's wiser to wait patiently.

Here are a few suggestions on how to help youngsters learn to control their behavior:

Up to Age 2—

ASD infants and toddlers get frustrated by the large gap between the things they want to do and what they're able to do. They often respond with temper tantrums. Try to prevent outbursts by distracting your little one with toys or other activities. For youngsters reaching the 2-year-old mark, try a brief timeout in a designated area — like a kitchen chair or bottom stair — to show the consequences for outbursts and teach that it's better to take some time alone instead of throwing a tantrum.

Ages 3 to 5—

You can continue to use timeouts, but rather than enforcing a specific time limit, end timeouts once your HFA youngster has calmed down. This helps youngsters improve their sense of self-control. And praise your youngster for not losing control in frustrating or difficult situations.

Ages 6 to 9—

As HFA youngsters enter school, they're better able to understand the idea of consequences and that they can choose good or bad behavior. It may help your youngster to imagine a stop sign that must be obeyed and think about a situation before responding. Encourage your youngster to walk away from a frustrating situation for a few minutes to cool off instead of having an outburst.

Ages 10 to 12—

Older youngsters on the spectrum usually better understand their feelings. Encourage them to think about what's causing them to lose control and then analyze it. Explain that sometimes the situations that are upsetting at first don't end up being so awful. Urge youngsters to take time to think before responding to a situation.

Ages 13 to 17—

By now  teens on the spectrum should be able to control most of their actions. But remind teens to think about long-term consequences. Urge them to pause to evaluate upsetting situations before responding and talk through problems rather than losing control, slamming doors, or yelling. If necessary, discipline your teen by taking away certain privileges to reinforce the message that self-control is an important skill.

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

When Youngsters On the Spectrum Are Out of Control—

As difficult as it may be, resist the urge to yell when you're disciplining your youngsters. Instead, be firm and matter of fact. During a youngster's meltdown, stay calm and explain that yelling, throwing a tantrum, and slamming doors are unacceptable behaviors that have consequences — and say what those consequences are.

Your actions will show that tantrums won't get youngsters the upper hand. For example, if your youngster gets upset in the grocery store after you've explained why you won't buy candy, don't give in — thus demonstrating that the tantrum was both unacceptable and ineffective.

Also, consider speaking to your youngster's teachers about classroom settings and appropriate behavioral expectations. Ask if problem solving is taught or demonstrated in school.

And model good self-control yourself. If you're in an irritating situation and your youngsters are present, tell them why you're frustrated and then discuss the potential solutions to the problem. For example, if you've misplaced your keys, instead of getting upset, tell your youngsters the keys are missing and then search for them together. If they don't turn up, take the next constructive step (like retracing your steps when you last had the keys in-hand). Show that good emotional control and problem solving are the ways to deal with a difficult situation.

How do you handle your child's misbehavior? After all, we all go though times when we begin to wonder, "What's going on here? My youngsters seem to be totally out of control."

Often times, poor behavior can be our youngsters' way of telling us that something feels out of control for them; so the next time you're caught off guard by repeated misbehavior, take a few moments to ask yourself the following questions:

Am I Taking Care of Myself?

This is absolutely critical. When we're not taking care of ourselves, we unwittingly send a message to our youngsters that we're not worthy of their respect. In addition, there is a direct correlation between self-care and the amount of energy and patience we have at our disposal. As a result, when we don't take care of ourselves, we can easily become "snappy" with our youngsters, and this ends up being reflected back to us through their behaviors and choices.
  • After the youngsters are in bed, make yourself a cup of tea and do nothing for awhile.
  • Give yourself a break. Hire a babysitter and get out for a few hours.
  • Take a long walk.

Are the Youngsters Reacting to Any Recent Changes in Their Lives?

Of course you already know that your kids are incredibly perceptive. And as a single parent, you also realize that, unfortunately, the changes your youngsters have to go through - such as sudden changes in their visitation schedule with the other parent - aren't always within your control. However, it's important for you to be aware that creating a positive home environment is one of your most valuable assets in encouraging your youngsters' positive behavior and choices. Think about how you can be a consistent presence in your youngsters' lives, emotionally as well as physically.
  • Acknowledge that this is difficult for your youngsters and make an effort to be gentle with them.
  • Be extra generous with your hugs and affection.
  • Do what you can to create consistency in the areas you can control.

O.K. Let's take a moment for a reality check. As a single parent, you may not be able to dedicate one-on-one time with your child on a regular basis. However, when you find yourself dealing with repeated behavior issues, try to incorporate some creative ways to build in even small chunks of "Mommy Time" or "Daddy Time" with your youngster. You'd be surprised how much even older kids crave this! It definitely requires a sacrifice of your time and attention, but it can pay huge dividends in your youngster's sense of well-being and positive decision making.
  • Develop a bedtime routine that includes talking and reading together each night.
  • Play a board game and have some fun together.
  • Turn off the TV and spend some time talking and enjoying one another.

Am I Being Consistent in My Expectations and My Reactions?

As much as you can, try to be consistent with your child's schedules and routines. Simply knowing what to expect will help him behave well. In addition, try to be consistent in your reactions to your child's behaviors. When our reactions depend on our mood, we teach our youngsters that we're unpredictable. This can add stress to your youngster and make it more difficult to exhibit self-control. In addition, your effort to be consistent shows respect and honors your relationship.
  • Develop a consistent evening routine that includes time for completing and reviewing homework.
  • Develop consistent expectations regarding time with friends and extra-curricular activities.
  • Serve dinner at roughly the same time each night.

Am I Including the Child?

When you can, try to include your child in your decision-making. So much of his life is pre-determined, particularly for kids who are in school all day. When you can, try to give your kids opportunities to make their own choices. This might be regarding what clothes they wear, to the food they eat. Having this opportunity to make a choice - even one that might seem insignificant to us - empowers your youngster to make appropriate choices. With older kids, look for opportunities to compromise when you can, realizing that there will be some non-negotiable issues.
  • Ask your youngsters for ideas about what they'd like to do together when you have time for a special outing.
  • Give your youngsters choices whenever you can.
  • Let your youngsters participate in making decisions about meals by planning and preparing dinners together.

==> More parenting methods for dealing with oppositional, defiant behavior in kids on the autism spectrum...

How to Handle Your ASD Child's Obsessions and Rituals


Dear Mr. Hutten,

I appreciate all the newsletters, and have come to think that you might be able to offer advice. My son (KW- I will use his initials) is 14, and although my husband prefers to call him "normal", for me, it’s a little more reasonable to say that he has AS (as was diagnosed). I'm around him more. I see the tendency to rock, and the need to hold something in his hand, etc. There are a couple of symptoms that he does not have like having "meltdowns" in public or extreme reaction to loud noise. But he does have enough symptoms that generally I think he may have it. Whether he does or not, the advice for AS is right on the nose for him.

This is my dilemma - KW saw spit coming out of my mouth when I was speaking forcefully about his homework, and from that time has developed a sort of theory that whenever I talk I spit. From there, he started spitting in order to get rid of the germs that he thought went into his mouth. (I really apologize if this is a bit too gross). So now he softly allows saliva to fall onto his clothes or book or whatever.

I of course told him that spitting in that fashion was not ok and have gone to great lengths to tell him only babies spit, or "you did not do that when you were 12, why do you do it now?" I tried many different things, including explaining that his practice does not aid in getting rid of germs. But it is such a habit at this point. Also, along the same line of reasoning, he covers his food with his hand whenever I come near to avoid getting my germs on it. This really breaks my heart. But that’s what "he's into" at the moment.

He also was becoming obsessed with some sort of problem with his face. He's a genuinely good looking boy. However, there is something that he finds unacceptable. He was getting very upset and started looking at himself in the mirror and yelling something like "NO, no, no." Anyway, I tried to tell him that he was handsome but he would not accept that. He was really very upset and even cried. Then I told him something about hormones at his age causing the trouble. Anyway, he came up with another "theory" of sorts that his life is devastated because he is forced to accept something about himself that he cannot accept.

Up until he found out there was not going to be a spiderman 4, he was into blogging about Spiderman on the internet. But when he found out it was over, he lost his area of interest. Now he has no hobby and I think that these issues have become his hobby.

I wish I had been more wise a few years ago and that I could still hug him, but that is not the case. He will initiate conversation with me when he has something to say, but so often the conversation I initiate is centered around the daily task of getting homework done, or picking up or something. I am practically like his enemy. But the problem is that if he does not talk to me, then he spends his whole time at home just daydreaming, which is getting worse in terms of the amount of time and he is really tuning out.

I am thinking that maybe he needs counseling. When I went to a counselor a couple years ago he told me that if my son has AS, (no diagnosis back then) then the only counseling he could do is to help the parents. But at school there is a really great special ed teacher who works with KW on various social situations and is making some progress. I thought maybe someone could help him come to terms with these issues. My husband is not able to face it right now. And I have blown my relationship with KW by pushing him to get through the daily tasks.

This is my third attempt to write this letter. No matter how I write it, it seems like something that is not reasonable to send. Yet I keep trying. So I am going to send it as-is this time and not rewrite it again.

Thank you for your time.




I see two issues here: (1) obsessions/rituals and (2) low self-esteem.

Rituals and obsessions are one of the hallmarks of ASD (high-functioning autism). In order to cope with the anxieties and stresses about the chaotic world around them, kids often obsess and ritualize their behaviors to comfort themselves. While some kids may spend their time intensely studying one area, others may be compulsive about cleaning, lining up items or even doing things which put them or others in danger.

Here are some suggestions to help:

1. Be prepared for resistance by arming yourself with suggestions and alternatives to your youngster's behavior. A great way of doing this is by creating a "social story". Carol Gray's Social Stories site is a great resource for parents and educators alike to create books which will modify behavior in kids with autistic spectrum disorders.

2. Choose your battles wisely. Breaking an obsession or ritual is like running a war campaign. If not planned wisely or if you attempt to fight on many fronts, you're guaranteed to fail. Not only is it time consuming and tiring, it means you can't devote 100% to each particular area. So, if you have a youngster with a game obsession, a phobia of baths and bedtime troubles, choose only one to deal with. Personally, and I have had that choice, I dealt with the bedtime troubles. Using logic, a sleep deprived youngster certainly isn't going to deal with behavioral modification in other areas well. Plus, it was having an effect on his overall health. Deal with the worst first!

3. Communicate with your youngster to explain the effect that his or her ritual is having on your family as a whole. My child's 2am wake-up calls were affecting me mentally, emotionally and physically, and I told him so. I pulled some research off the internet about sleep needs and discussed this with him.

4. Speak to professionals for advice. Contact your pediatrician for recommendations for behavior therapists. Your local parent support groups and national associations, such as the National Autistic Society, will not only provide you support but the information you need to move forward with your youngster.

5. When breaking an obsession or ritual, examine the ways that you may have fed into this. With my child's bedtime activities, I found I was too tired to fight his waking up at 2am. While dealing with this ritual, I ensured I was in bed early myself so I had enough sleep in me to knock his night owl tendencies on the head.

6. When tackling any problem with any youngster, Aspergers or not, it's always best to remain calm at all times. Kids can feed off your anger, frustration and anxiety, so keeping a level head at all times is essential. If you feel a situation is escalating and elevating your blood pressure, take a step back and collect yourself.

Some Practical Tips to Build Healthy Self-Esteem—

1. Always comment on any procedure that is done well, but aim not to comment when it is poorly done!

2. Ask permission to comment on their progress from your perspective.

3. Ask permission to work with them on any improvements they think might be necessary.

4. Avoid using words that denote something is ‘bad’, ‘rubbish’, ‘a mess’, ‘awful’, ‘could be better’, ‘poor’, or ‘incompetent’. Individuals with AS can be quick to pick up on all that they are not, rather than on what they are or could be!

5. Discuss with your child/spouse how they view their own achievements and/or progress.

6. Focus in on the successes, not the failures, mistakes or ‘could be improved’.

7. If they think they are ‘the best’, ask them to explore their reasoning with you.

8. If they think they are ‘the worst’, ask them to explore their reasoning with you. Be careful not to use ‘why’ questions and always frame or structure your question so that they have a framework to respond in. Avoid open-ended questions -- we don’t know how to answer them!

9. Never assume that your comments for their improvement will be welcome, either ask to be invited to comment or share your own experience with them, if allowed to, being careful NOT to compare yours to theirs. Just state the facts.

10. Offer lots and lots of positive reinforcement. I don’t mean bribes, but well-timed approval is terrific. Not only does it let us know that we are OK, but it's’ useful in teaching us what the most appropriate response might be. An example taken from personal experience is: "He always monopolizes the dinner table conversation, so one day I waited for a pause as he was eating, and I said, ‘you know Kyle, you talk much less at the table than you used to, and sometimes you listen to what others say and follow the dinner conversation’."

Good luck,


How to Turn a Teacher's Complaint into a Positive Learning Experience

RE: "I've been getting a series of complaints (emails) from my son's teacher regarding his poor conduct and slipping grades. I'm not sure how to respond. Can you help?"

Receiving a complaint from a teacher may seem like a setback, but it's actually an opportunity for growth and improvement. When a teacher expresses concerns about your child's performance, it's a sign that they care about his success and want to help him reach his full potential.

To turn a teacher's complaint into a positive learning experience, it's important to approach the situation with an open mind and a willingness to collaborate. Listen carefully to the teacher's concerns and ask questions to gain a deeper understanding of the issue. Take notes to show that you are taking the matter seriously and are committed to making positive changes.

Working collaboratively with the teacher to create a plan for improvement is the key to success. This demonstrates your commitment to your child's education and shows the teacher that you value their feedback. Stay positive throughout the process, as the teacher's complaint is not a reflection of your worth as a parent, but rather an opportunity to develop resilience and problem-solving skills that will benefit your son.

Turning a teacher's complaint into a positive learning experience requires a positive attitude, a willingness to collaborate, and an open mind. By embracing this opportunity for growth and improvement, you can turn what may seem like a setback into a valuable learning experience that will benefit your son throughout his academic pursuits.

Why Empathy is Key When Dealing with Your Child's Behavior at School

Empathy plays a crucial role when dealing with your child's behavior at school. It is essential to understand that your child's behavior is a form of communication, and they may be expressing emotions that they don't have the words to convey. It is imperative to delve deeper into the root causes of their behavior to understand what's troubling them. By showing empathy, you can create an atmosphere where your child feels understood, safe, and supported. 

Instead of blaming and punishing your son, it is more effective to focus on understanding and addressing the underlying causes of their behavior. Collaborating with your child's teachers and school administrators to develop a plan can help tackle the behavioral challenges and promote academic success. For example, if your child is acting out because they are struggling with a particular subject, working with the teacher to create a plan to support their learning can help them feel more confident and engaged in their education.

Empathy can also help prevent conflicts between you and your child that may arise due to their behavior. When you show empathy, your child feels seen and heard, which can reduce their frustration and anxiety. In turn, this can help them regulate their behavior and communicate their needs more effectively.

The Surprising Impact of Mindfulness on Your Child's Behavior in the Classroom

Research has shown that the practice of mindfulness can have a profound impact on a child's behavior in the classroom. Mindfulness-based interventions have been found to help children regulate their emotions, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve their focus and attention span. 

By teaching children to be present in the moment and pay attention to their thoughts and feelings without judgment, they can learn to manage their behavior in a more effective and positive way. Mindfulness practices can help children develop greater self-awareness, which can lead to improved decision-making and problem-solving skills. 

Furthermore, mindfulness has been shown to have a positive impact on academic performance. Studies have found that mindfulness-based interventions can improve working memory, cognitive flexibility, and academic achievement. 

By incorporating mindfulness practices into a child's daily routine, parents and educators can help children develop lifelong skills that will benefit them both inside and outside of the classroom. Mindfulness can help children develop greater resilience, compassion, and emotional intelligence, which can lead to improved relationships, greater well-being, and a more fulfilling life.

The Importance of Building a Strong Partnership with Your Child's Teacher

As a parent, you want your child to succeed in school and in life. One of the best ways to ensure that happens is by building a strong partnership with your child's teacher. By working together, you can create a supportive and positive learning environment that benefits your child in many ways.

Teachers are experts in their field and they have a wealth of knowledge and experience that can help your child succeed academically and socially. By collaborating with your child's teacher, you can gain insights into your child's strengths and challenges, and develop strategies to help them overcome any obstacles they might face in their learning.

In addition, a strong partnership with your child's teacher can keep you informed about your child's progress in school. Regular communication with the teacher can help you stay up-to-date with your child's academic performance, and identify any areas where they might need additional support.

Finally, building a strong partnership with your child's teacher can help you reinforce positive behaviors and values at home. When you work together with the teacher, you can create a consistent approach to discipline, encourage good study habits, and reinforce the importance of education.

So, if you want to give your child the best chance at success, take the time to build a strong partnership with their teacher. By working together, you can create a supportive and positive learning environment that will benefit your child for years to come.

Helping Your Child Take Ownership of Their Behavior

As a parent, it can be challenging when your child behaves in ways that are not acceptable. However, it's important to remember that taking ownership of their behavior is a vital skill that your child needs to develop to succeed in life. Here are some effective tips to help your child take ownership of their behavior:

1. Encourage reflection: Instead of simply telling your child what they did wrong, encourage them to reflect on their behavior and how it affected others. Ask them thought-provoking questions like "How do you think your friend felt when you said that?" or "What could you have done differently in that situation?"

2. Set clear expectations: Be clear and specific in your expectations, and make sure your child understands the consequences of not meeting those expectations. Consistency is key in setting expectations.

3. Use positive reinforcement: Praise your child when they take ownership of their behavior. Positive reinforcement can be a powerful motivator for children.

4. Model good behavior: Children learn by example, so make sure you are modeling the kind of behavior you want to see in your child. If you make a mistake, own up to it and apologize.

Remember, helping your child take ownership of their behavior is a process that takes time and patience. But with consistent positive reinforcement and a little bit of guidance, you can help your child develop this crucial life skill and set them up for success.


Anger and Violence in Young People on the Autism Spectrum


Is anger and violent behavior usually a part of the ASD condition? I'm currently waiting for an evaluation and diagnosis for my 5 yr old – autism is suspected.


Kids (and adults) with ASD [High-Functioning Autism] are prone to frustration, anger – and sometimes violence. The rapidity and intensity of anger, often in response to a relatively trivial event, can be extreme. When feeling angry, the child with ASD does not appear to be able to pause and think of alternative strategies to resolve the situation.

There is often an instantaneous physical response without careful thought. When the anger is intense, the youngster on the spectrum may be in a blind rage and unable to see the signals indicating that it would be appropriate to stop.

Kids with ASD have a great deal of difficulty with social relationships. They have trouble understanding the meaning of what others are saying and doing, and they typically struggle to take the other person's perspective. In addition, children with ASD are typically dependent upon structure and routine because they have trouble making sense of the "gray areas" of any interaction. Thus, there is room for a great deal of confusion. Kids in a confused state can easily become frustrated, angry, and lash out.

For some kids with the disorder, there appears to be a faulty emotion regulation or control mechanism for expressing anger. This means they are more likely to use aggression or violence as a way of dealing with their anger. For others, aggression may be a way of controlling their circumstances and experiences.

For example, they may threaten to hurt their mother if she insists on their going to school; or they may use violence to make her buy something associated with their special interest. For others, aggression can be a way to make other people stop what they are doing – teasing or bullying – or a simply a way to make them go away. It is also possible that in some kids with ASD , the aggression is masking a mood disorder, such as clinical depression.

Treatment for these young people often involves a reliance on structure, including schedules and routine. In addition, teachers might offer a "quiet" place in the room that an overwhelmed youngster can move to in order to calm themselves.

Aggressive behavior in the youngster occurs for a reason, just as it would with any other youngster. Inappropriate behavior, whether mild or severe, occurs in order to (a) avoid something, (b) get something, (c) because of pain, or (d) to fulfill a sensory need.

Parents need to determine the need that aggression fulfills. Teach them a replacement behavior (i.e., to communicate what they want or don't want). It may even involve using some of their obsessive or self-stimulating behaviors as a replacement. This is because it would be far less intrusive to others than aggressive behaviors, but still serve the same purpose. This process takes time and initially, depending on the behavior, you may not have time.

If the behavior is severe, then you need to remove the youngster from whatever situation they are in at the time. Simply insisting that they stop the behavior and participate in whatever is occurring will not benefit the youngster or you, unless you remove them from the situation first.

Maintaining their routine will go a long way towards reducing the need for inappropriate or aggressive behavior in the first place.

Early diagnosis and intervention predicts more positive outcomes for kids with just about any diagnosis. And, in the case in which your youngster does not have a formal diagnosis, you will have learned a great deal about his or her unique cognitive and emotional profile, and you can rest easy, focusing on helping to grow his or her talents and capabilities.



Anonymous said… Someone just brought this to my attention. It was the killing from a few weeks ago, in WY, where the kid used a bow and arrow. He too had aspergers. I don't believe that everyone with the disease if at risk of creating violence, but I could be wrong and maybe it has something to do with the way their body reacts to the meds they're on.

Anonymous said… This incident has upset me tremendously.  A year ago a school psychologist actually told me "kids like your son become the Columbine kids".  Now I worry so much that people will be afraid of my son after this.  He is only nine but has had violent outbursts of screaming and biting at home and school.  I still don't think he could do something like this.  He has a hard time fighting kids in his karate class.  I can't for the life of me figure out why that mother had guns in her house.  But clearly there was more wrong with that boy than just Aspergers. Thank you for your website and information.  It helps to know others understand.

Anonymous said…Thank you so much for this post! Helps me make sense of something so "senseless."

Anonymous said… My child is now 20 and has a degree of social anxiety and possible Aspergers.. He is in therapy being tested.. However he has never ever been abusive in any way or violent at all. He is very soft spoken and is very open & friendly with his immediate family & some friends that are in his 'social comfort zone'.. He may not be the' norm' however I know there are such varying degrees of this... It makes me afraid though in light of the recent tragedy in Connecticut that everyone will paint a picture of ever child with Aspergers as dangerous.. And I just don't believe that's the case.

Anonymous said… I'm not a health professional, but everyone is different and react to things differently. I've heard that Bill Gates has a touch of Aspergers, as do many other successful business people. That's what I've been told from a friend, who is a therapist for kids with downs and aspergers.

Anonymous said… Young people with Aspergers are quiet, gentle, sensitive, focussed on rules, facts etc. Give your child quiet activities to occupy him/her. Art, drawing, cutting, pasting..... Lego is a wonderful activity and my 12 year old will still head off to his lego box when stressed or anxious. Limit exposure to the news, which can be very violent, limit use of violent video games, music videos etc. These overstimulate any child really, but Aspergers children are highly intelligent and take in so much information.

Anonymous said… Thank you, Mark.  I've been worried about how the media would portray individuals who have Asperger's given the description of the suspected shooter.  Anything to minimize the stigma and misunderstanding is appreciated.

Anonymous said… My son in an aspie with ADHD/ODD. most of the time he is a sweet polite child, however, he is a light switch. He has difficulty making correct choices and sometimes the choice of threatening or hitting someone jumps I front of the correct choice of walking away or telling an adult or expressing he is upset. Aspergers itself isn't responsible for his behavior (which he does have a much better handle on, he has made dramatic improvements in the past year) but it is the other disorders that coincide with it. He has no filter even though he knows right from wrong. 

Anonymous said… My son's frustration results in hurting himself, not others. I am sure everyone is different as in the general population. Austim is a neuro developmental difference not a personality disorder. One can have Asperger's in conjunction with other disorders and the violence could be an attribute of the other disorder.

Anonymous said… my 12 year old son has never been violent or mean. He is more whiney than anything

Anonymous said… My 8yo has violent rages at home but behaves well at school.

Anonymous said… My son has aspergers and voilent behavior is part of it for him...but not for every child with it. He is on Abilify for a mood stabilizer It has made a world of a difference for him. He does still have outburts here and there, but NOTHING like before the Abilify.

Anonymous said… my 9 yr old has had rages at home,but is a perfect loveable angel anywhere else unless she has a meltdown. Those in public are few and far these days though. Rarely has her rage ever involved anyone other then herself (other then her little sister provoking her) and typically she will get so mad she just screams and cries.. a lot

Anonymous said… I have a 9 y.o. daughter with Asperger's and while she has angry outbursts from time to time, she does not usually resort to violence against another person - not since she was much younger and she did not know how to handle her feelings. I have taught her to take out her anger on a pillow, and to start counting backwards from 10 and practicing deep breathing whenever she begins to feel angry. These practices work great when they are allowed... but the key to their success are making the teachers aware of what helps and enforcing the child's need to be able to do these things. The times my child wound up having melt downs at school usually resulted from her being kept in a situation that was distressing her and she was not allowed to do what she needed to do to release the anger - usually whomever the anger was directed against was up in her personal space and simply would not leave her alone - teachers yelling, other students taunting, it happens whether you educate them or not. It is a battle you as the parent will have to wage constantly to make sure that the school follows the IEP. There are many different ways you can teach your child to cope with anger issues. Some Asperger's children are going to have more severe cases than others, of course, so it is really not accurate to say any one method works with all children with Asperger's. The sooner you have diagnosis and can get started with an OT the better off they will be. I really like the comment on the article from "catsarespies" (even though I love cats and know they aren't spies LOL) "surprisingly, when i sign up for kickboxing classes, i found i learned to control my rage attacks. by punching and kicking bags while building my anger, and stopping when the instructor told me to, i learned self control. i do believe i've got my rage under control now. part of the reason i got so mad was because i couldnt find words to say how i felt or why what the other person said or did was wrong. the others out talked me any time, easily. i cant always put an idea in words. knowing i'm right and the other person is wrong but doesnt realize it and the frustration of my inability to express it contributed to my anger, plus the feeling that i was trapped in an alien world with rules i couldnt understand caused me to feel anger often, especially in childhood, without knowing why. also, i'd want to the person to leave me alone and he/she wouldnt and i didnt know any strategy to make them stop."

Anonymous said… My 11 yr old has Aspergers, ADHD, odd, OCD, and anxiety and has severe rage fits. They have become less frequent as he got older, but he has got more defiant as he has gotten older. Every child is different!!

Anonymous said… My six year old, Julian has had rages at home and has been physically aggressive but does great at school. He has had meltdowns in public but all have decreased since he started taking vyvanse. We have him take a break when we see that he is getting frustrated, which leads to the aggression. This means reading, coloring or drawing, which helps him calm himself down.

Anonymous said… I think some kids on the spectrum can have anger/rage and display it in violent ways, but I see this as demonstrative of personality differences that we ALL have.

Anonymous said… ASD children can also learn coping skills (as we all have to) and what those are and how fast they learn them differs.

Anonymous said… My 9 yo son has had seasons of extreme anger and threats of violence. The thing that made the most difference was assuring him of our love no matter what, and us learning new skills to help him calm down. His social worker is like a magician!

Anonymous said… My 8 year old has violent outburst, punching kicking biting during meltdown, but my 7 year old just screams and yells and I have put some of this down to early stragies as we asked for help at 2 with my eldest son and bascially got told go away till he's 5. We had special ed at our kindy asses him at 4 and told us then what possibly could be going on and by this stage our youngest was starting to show the same signs, so intervention went in for both kids and my youngest is a lot easier to handel during rage. We have also found that he used rage at our last school as a coping skill, if life got tough hit someone and he was either put on the deck for the rest of lunch or sent home. He saw a punishment area at school as a safe place from bullies, but school didn't want to know.

Anonymous said… Wouldn't you get angry and violent if people kept misunderstanding you, not listening to you, throw too much information at you to process at one time and making you feel abnormal? I know I do when My kids don't listen to me, when I tell them to get dressed and instead they continue doing what they want to do, Or when I tell them please be quiet, mommy needs a time out, but instead they continue to come at me with questions, requests and even demands. My now 12 yo aspie used to have incredible violent anger episodes. It was after I tried to see the world from HIS perspective that things started to calm down. Those episodes are VERY few now. I think there is too much weight on making it the child's behavior the focus and not on the source of his behavior. Autic and Asperger children have a hard time communicating their feelings, let alone understanding feelings of others. They need OUR (the parents and his support network) help. WE need to step up and help THEM, not expect them to figure it out on their OWN, or because WE SAID SO. I am so angry with all the stuff that is coming out all over the media trying to over generalize the reason for something, when it is an individual challenge for each one of us with or without a disability or mental illness or disease. Let us all be responsible, not let others be responsible. BTW I am not diagnosed with ANYTHING. I am healthy, mentally and physically and spiritually. I work very hard to be that way, without someone else telling me what I need to do in order to be that way. It is WORK to be "NORMAL".

Anonymous said… Replies to this were helpful distraction techniques and trying to remain calm and being able to get out of the way of punches etc

Anonymous said… 1 thing to keep in mind and I know this with my son when he is in full rage, he hears nothing he see's nothing, he does not know what he is doing. He burst into tears the day following a huge rage when he saw the brusing to my finger, we thought he had broken it, he was so sorry for what he had done, but didn't remember hurting me. He is on an omega with evening primrose oil in it and we have found this has calmed him down a lot, we tried an omega on his own and it didn't have the same effect as the 1 with the EPO in it.

Anonymous said… A few weeks ago, my son Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9 year old siblings knew the safety plan -- they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.

Anonymous said… Violent outbursts are few and far between at home as we understand the triggers. At school he is becoming more violent (children seem to wind him up ie- shouting in his sensitive ears, not letting him play unless he brings in certain toys, embarrassing him when he chews on his sensory chew, lots of things really. The teacher believes a stern talking to is the way to go! Not working, so i have just bought teacher a book to educate him and my sons peers. Hopefully a bit more understanding will make my precious little boy have better school days.

Anonymous said… The media is saying there is “no connection” between high-functioning autism (aspergers) and violent crime. Bullshit! Open your eyes people. Of course, most of these children never get violent, and I’m not about to vilify these kids – but to say there is NO connection (if face of the recent incidents involving kids on the spectrum) is just plain stupid! I’m sure the truth will come to light soon ;)

Anonymous said… Mark, this is excellent.  You are amazing..I agree with every word.  I wish they would interview YOU on TV, because most of the so-called 'experts' are dancing around the mulberry bush being politically correct.  We need to hear the truth about this disorder!   Again, thank you..I will post this on my FB page and tell everybody I know to read your piece. God Bless You! 

Anonymous said… So my child tried to hit me tonight and I stopped him and sat him down and started showing him the news footage of this tragedy. We've had a good talk about all of this.


Anonymous said… I wonder how Adam Lanza was treated by his school system. Did it ignore his disability because it didn't want to spend money on him? I am raising my 9 year grandson. I have begged his school system to recognize his Asperger diagnosis as a disability. He threatens to kill classmates and teachers. His classmates are afraid of him and say he is mean. For 18 months I was told that he was "mild, mild, mild" and the child study committee ignored the warning signs. I was told that his grades were too good. That he didn't need help. Finally, after I became the bitch from hell and challenged them on their every decision, they have decided that his diagnosis is a disability. I anxiously await the next meeting to see what assistance they offer. I pray ever day for all the misunderstood children and their parents, who are trying to get them help.

Anonymous said… My son is like this, and we've been through hell. He can be sweet and polite, but on a daily basis he threatens to kill me. He's over 100 lbs now and almost my height. He has a specific connection with me vs anyone else in our household. If he is having a bad day he relys on my completely. He does a lot if rocking and spinning and repeating before the rage and then eventually goes into full on darkened eyes adrenaline fueled rage. He's punched me in the face, kicked me while pregnant, tried to kill himself by jumping off our balcony, jumping out of the car while I was driving, impaling me in the head with various things while I'm driving. He's peed on us, peed on himself. Thrown up on us, himself and his room. I could go on. At his best he is sweet and kind, at his worst I've woken up in the middle of the night to him standing over me with the look. Our knives are hidden, bedroom doors lock. I love him so much and it pulls on my heart strings to see him hurt. He is 9 yrs old, he's been like this since he was a toddler. He's diagnosed with Aspergers, before that we went through 4 other diagnoses. Aspergers has afforded is the healthcare coverage we need. I'm sorry if this doesn't describe your child, but it does mine. I just want a place free of judgement for how my son behaves. With behaviors like this, when I share with others I feel like I get ostracized. I get looks, judgement, people stop talking to us. I just want a place to go where people understand. The author who wrote this made me feel less alone in this battle. My husband and I are both active duty. We're a loving kind and compassionate family. Were not lazy inconsistent parents. We've raised our children in a structured traditional environment. My son has an ABA provider that works with him. We're doing EVERYTHING we are supposed to do. Again, Im sorry if this doesn't fit your child, and Im sorry if it may seem an insult to your child's character. This IS how my child is. This is our reality... hospitals, death threats. To me this wasn't an insult, it was the first time I've felt normal.

Anonymous said… My Aspie was suspended last week and now I don't even dare send him back to school. He has been "stereotyped" now, and I don't want to have the school overreacting.

Anonymous said… Our 21 year old son has taken a toll on the family, knife threats, erratic behavior, etc, all of which eventually landed us in psych emergency. How horrible to finally get there after a horrible episode only to be sent home with a prescription and recommendations. The psychiatrists apologized but that was all they could do. We were so close to calling the police, but thankfully avoided that route to date. I thank God every day for psychotropic medication! 

Anonymous said… I have a 13 year old aspie ,he does find it hard at school and cos stands out as vulnerable can be picked on,. He does hace friends, he does emotions and the same dry sense of humour as his elder brother (who is nt an aspie). He does get angry and frustrated and has,had meltdowns. He has does threaten me but I really don't think he means it,he vents out at me cos I'm his mum.he did hurt me the other week physically the other week and it took me by surprise,and has certainly reminded me how it can be.I am a bit wary now, he is extremely strong and nearly as big as me. I do think he could hurt me again,but he is not violent, it is his anger and frustration at himself at times. .eg,he,may lost his keys, or finding homework hard.going through puberty aswell,.we hav asked his doctor to refer us bk to the people that diagnosed him, for help and support for him and us as we approach the adolescent years. Aspergers syndrome is an individual condition..I doubt there's 2 aspies the same.

Anonymous said… Mark, it's not surprising that you took a lot of heat for this post, but please let that not deter you from espousing the truth.  Someone has to lead us out of ignorance and denial. You may well be the one! I'm doing all I can to support your position. 

Anonymous said… I would like to know if this ever gets better...we have been going through all of this for about 2 years now and I am scared about everything. I cry myself to sleep most of the night because I do not know how to fix the issues. Today was one of his worst issues and it was so bad that I am still up in the middle of the night trying to figure out why??? We do the medicine thing and it seems like every 3 to 6 months we are changing something. But during those few months it seems to look like everything is going to well and when we praise him it all goes to pot. He is a smart kid and everyone at his school knows that. We just recently got him under the special education but only for help on non-classroom functions. He is a A/B student that never brings home anything below an 88. Even this last six weeks he made and 85 in one class but missed over 20 days in the whole 6 weeks and still was able to bring home mostly all A's except 2 that were B's. He was tested on his IQ and scored over a 115. He is only 9 years old and in the 4th grade. During all the testing for the special education he scored for 5th and 6th grade levels. But we do not do anything about that because emotionally he could not handle the upper grade levels. Today he left school and will not talk to anyone about why he did that. He walked all the way home and the principle followed him here to make sure that nothing bad happened. Thankfully he live just around the corner from there. Then after school he had one of his worst episodes I have ever witnessed. It was so bad that the Sheriff Department had him hog tied in chains and handcuffs and the calming down took over 2 hours. It was bad. I just feel like a failure when it comes to him. Can anyone give me any ideas or suggestions on what I might be able to do for him. I just want him to be a sweet kid that he is when he is having a good day. Please help if anyones knows what might work with him. Thank you.

Anonymous said… My 10 year old son with Asperger's has a great sense of injustice and a need to get justice himself if he doesn't think adults have dealt with it in his mind appropriately and he harbors huge grudges as he has a fantastic long memory for remembering the smallest things some one has said or done to upset him. But ask him to remember his school reading diary and you have no hope lol 

Anonymous said… my 14 yr old seems to be this definition. Has over the top reactions to things that are not that big of a deal and holds on to anger/grudges for far longer than anyone I have ever known! Also his rigid thought process often makes him appear as the bully or classroom cop! UGH His perceived injustices often make it impossible for him to "let go" or walk away from a situation!

Anonymous said… My 7-year-old has a "swatting" problem. If the time comes to do something he doesn't want to do, he will start furiously waving his arms and smacking things (including other people). I consider myself pretty lucky though. I can usually get this to stop if I stand directly over him and very sternly, very slowly say "Don't Swat". His hearing is hypersensitive and if I raise my voice even a little he hates it. He'd rather just quit than listen to me.

Anonymous said… My Husband and I have all boys, five of them. Our 6 yr old was recently diagnosed by the school's testing with Asperger's. He's high functioning, makes eye contact, social to people - but inappropriate with social skills. He has melt downs, he toe walks, he hates to leave the house to go anywhere, he has food issues (taste, texture , temperature) clothing sensory issues, likes to be in soft clothing, he's stronger in math, behind in writing/reading, shuts down in school, will hide under a desk, run away into a hallway. It kills us he has no friends(other than his Brothers) and he's aware of that : it bothers him, his lack of social skills make it hard for him to keep a friend, he's made fun of at school, he eats lunch alone. We knew since he was about 2 1/2 there was something different about him (melt downs that were more than a typical temper tantrum, he seemed to look through you- not connect with what you say, even today I still see that look). With the school's findings , its a relief because now we have something to help him with, we can look for resources, read, learn how to make it better for him. My question is, what now ? What should we be doing ? I'm making an appointment with a psychologist so he can be evaluated and make sure we do indeed have the correct diagnosis, but from everything I've read, it seems to be spot on. However, our Pediatrician isn't convinced (which is why we are making the appt with the psychologist) In the meantime, what should we be doing ? What kind of sports do other people's children with Aspergers do ok with where they don't get frustrated or aren't' made fun of ? He wants to play baseball. Also, we make certain exceptions for him with family life- try to be even more patient with him, take the time to explain things, what we're doing that day- any changes in plans. His Brothers are understanding to be more patient with him but we also at the same time don't treat him so differently. When you learned your child's diagnosis, what did you tell them about it so they could understand what makes them a little different ? Any advice is appreciated, thank you.

Anonymous said… My son is 22 years old and I am still dealing with these issues 

Anonymous said… My son, is this way, as well. What is the best way to handle theses situations? He has said that he gets so frustrated, he can't control himself. He not so much hurts others, but throws shelves of books on the floor, he has spit on a teacher's chair....He feels his teacher expects him to be perfect, and he cannot get over it.

Anonymous said… Sounds exactly like my 15 year old son. He too holds grudges for extreme amounts of time basically forever. He also seems to have a strict self conduct code. Does anyone else's teen dislike other teens? My son goes as far to say he hates teens because of the way they behave he also often says he hates the fact that he's a teen himself.

Anonymous said… Thank God my aspie gets upset but let's go rather quickly. A blessing for all.

Anonymous said… That's the same as my 14yr old, his arguments always seem so logical, if I hesitate to come back with a counterpoint he knows I'm floundering to find a rebuke! SO frustrating!

Anonymous said… This describes my 10 year old daughter exactly. It starts quickly and stops just as quickly. She feels her aggression is justified.

Anonymous said… This describes my 8 year old perfectly. Glad to know I'm not the only one dealing with this. I get so frustrated trying to talk to him about it. He always is able to justify his behavior. I can't ever "out argue" him about it. He has a reason that seems logical to him for everything.

Anonymous said… This describes my son perfectly. It's helpful to read that others are experiencing the same.

Anonymous said… This sounds like my 14 your old. We have had to go to the extremes of me and my son moving out if the family home so everyone can be safe and happy.

Anonymous said… We are experiencing these issues with our 8 yr old boy with Aspergers. He gets so angry, so quickly over what to us seem small things. So what can we do to help them manage their explosive feelings? I'm not sure, other than some professional help perhaps with Psych. I know that a piece of rough Velcro can help him to calm down. He rubs it and this helps him concentrate on the sensory feeling. 



Anonymous said... Most research on the incidence of High-Functioning Autism in criminal settings has been published in the past 10 years and highlights provocative associations between the deficits in people with High-Functioning Autism and violence. Some recent studies have indicated the following:

• unique forensic profiles
• potentially increased violence and associated psychiatric comorbidity
• infrequent history of illicit drug use, but a greater history of violent behavior
• increased possible sexual offending
• higher prevalence of Aspergers in maximum security hospitals relative to prevalence in the general population

Even though a diagnosis of High-Functioning Autism is not sufficient to invoke mitigation, these findings support the need to understand the characteristics of people with this disorder that might contribute to law breaking and to use those characteristics to parse out legal and intervention-driven policy recommendations. 

Efforts to understand the link between High-Functioning Autism and violence have already manifested in the U.S. legal system. Since 2008, state legislative policies and judicial decisions have considered the presence of a High-Functioning Autism diagnosis as a factor in making guilt and competency determinations. 

In recent years, media attention to criminal behavior among people with High-Functioning Autism has raised public alarm over a possible link between such behavior and these diagnoses. Reports across the nation have raised speculation over the link between High-Functioning Autism and violence, often implying a causal connection between the population and violent behavior, despite a lack of persuasive empirical evidence to this effect. 

The authors of the earliest known review of the link between Aspergers and violence concluded that no such connection exists. In a more recent review, the determination was that the link is inconclusive and is supported by only 11 of 147 studies on Aspergers and violence when the strictest inclusion criteria are used. However, other work suggests that there may be unique features of Autism Spectrum Disorders that are important to consider when violence is committed by people with High-Functioning Autism. Several case studies of young people have indicated that certain traits among people with High-Functioning Autism (e.g., impaired social understanding, restricted empathy) may lead to violent behavior in specific provocative circumstances. 

A recent study indicated a reduced incidence of law breaking among people with High-Functioning Autism, but the same study also demonstrated an increased history of violent behavior in the same sample. So, while the overall rate of criminal behavior diminished, the violent behavior (and damage associated with this behavior) increased. This finding is consistent with that in a recent large-scale review suggesting increased prevalence of violent behavior among young people with High-Functioning Autism. 

Understanding the potential link between High-Functioning Autism and violence is necessary both descriptively and legally. Several case studies have examined these possible links through the lens of existing diagnostic criteria, particularly specialized interests, lack of social understanding, and deficient empathy.

1. Baron-Cohen and Kohn et al. presented individual case studies of violent law-breaking in people with High-Functioning Autism, and argued that the deficient social understanding was attributable to a deficient theory of mind (i.e., the ability to understand others' mental states). 
2. Barry-Walsh and Mullen presented several forensic cases of people with High-Functioning Autism that can be interpreted as repercussions of specialized interests or lack of social understanding. 
3. Murrie et al. noted several cases in which deficient empathy and social naïveté contributed substantially to law-breaking behavior (e.g., in one case, the individual believed he could attract sexual partners by engaging in public performance of bizarre sex acts with an inflatable doll).
4. Schwartz-Watts notes the importance of considering the person's stereotyped interests in several murder cases. 

The same observations are supported by a review of typical motives and triggers of violence in Aspergers:

• Violence (i.e., assaults, arson, homicides) was carried out in an emotionally detached manner. 
• More than half of the violent acts examined were motivated by “communicative and social misinterpretations of other persons' intentions” or sensory hypersensitivity.
• Approximately half of triggers of violence were accounted for by narrow interests in specialized visual appearances, “not getting the right response or being approached in a wrong manner by others,” or “ordinary, non-provocative physical nearness.”

While the above considerations help to understand that some people with High-Functioning Autism might commit acts of violence, they are less helpful for understanding why. A consideration of other common factors in High-Functioning Autism that may contribute to violence is important to describe, and it is necessary to understand the legal implications of such behavior in people with High-Functioning Autism. 

Newman and Ghaziuddin, authors of a report critiquing the link between Aspergers and violence, recently co-authored a review positing a link between some violent behavior and High-Functioning Autism in subsequent literature and suggesting psychiatric comorbidities as a possible factor leading to such a connection. They found that most of the literature on those with Aspergers who commit violent acts indicates that these people also have various co-occurring psychiatric problems (e.g., anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizoaffective disorder, depression, etc.). As the presence of these disorders alone does not confer substantial additional risk of violence, they concluded that the finding by no means proves a causal link, but nonetheless provides an area for further examination when evaluating people with Aspergers who have committed violence. 

“Theory of mind” deficits are implicated in violence among people with High-Functioning Autism. Theory of mind is the ability to understand and represent the mental states of others. The pattern of deficit appears unique among individuals with High-Functioning Autism. 

A second area of difficulty for people with High-Functioning Autism is emotion regulation (i.e., the ability to inhibit quickly and appropriately the expression of strong emotions). Behaviorally, deficits in emotion regulation manifest as problems with impulse control, aggression, and negative peer interactions. While emotion regulation is an executive function capacity that demonstrates considerable variation between typically developing people, it may be especially impaired in those with High-Functioning Autism. As emotion regulation difficulties in grown-ups can lead to violence, a deficiency in this ability among people with High-Functioning Autism may contribute to findings of a disproportionately increased history of violent behavior. This deficiency could also be seen to lead to more impulsive violence. 

In a study by Wahlund and Kristiansson, use of murder methods requiring less premeditation (i.e., not using guns or other weapons) was unique to incarcerated murderers with Autism Spectrum Disorders, compared with those with Antisocial Personality Disorder. The authors viewed this tendency as emerging from odd motives (e.g., the intense lifelong desire to stare at flickering flames in an arsonist with Aspergers).

It seems, then, that emotion regulation difficulties could increase violent behavior in people with High-Functioning Autism who also have substantial theory of mind impairment. For example, theory of mind difficulties may lead to social confusion, and this confusion can lead to feelings of frustration and helplessness. Violent behavior may result from unregulated physiological arousal among people with High-Functioning Autism with poor emotion regulation ability. The combination of the two may pose a particular risk for confused, impulsive, and ultimately violent behavior for these individuals. In other words, an interaction between (a) impaired theory of mind and (b) emotion regulation difficulties may predict increased violent behavior in those with High-Functioning Autism. 

Clearly, there needs to be more cross-discipline attention in the academic, legislative, and judicial domains to understand the relationship between Autism Spectrum Disorders and acts of violence, as well as the possible features that may facilitate this relationship, effective interventions, and consistent legal consequences. 

Most recent comments:

•    Anonymous said… Anger and frustration will get worse if you try suppress the child, you need to ask for helpful strategies. It's a scary time for your child as well as you.
•    Anonymous said… In my humble opinion, I think that Anger and Violence should NOT be link more to people with Asperger Syndrome. My son is 15 years old with Asperger Syndrome. He is kind, patient and slow to anger, I always hear his laughter... Anger and Violence is subjective within individuals.. Neuro-typicals can be extreme too. I believe that love and patience can conquer all challenges. However, many people with social communication issues are always left alone, they have no friends and don't know how to make one. At many times, they are bullied and ostracised, or labelled as being weird. Human being are social creatures, hence, without the connection and communication to the community, hate and anger may brew into depression and violence. This theory applies to any other neuro-typicals too... Human nature and not Asperger nature.
•    Anonymous said… Oh thank you. I have lots of friends with kids who have autism and aspergerz and they all homeschool. Hey Brick and mortar schools didn't come around til the late 1800s before that everyone was home schooled. And they're are so many great and easy programs out there now and so many support groups. So home school is becoming the norm
•    Anonymous said… Taking the time to listen and not assume things and to let me finish til I'm done even I have to repeat myself and making sure people listened very carefully and didn't just nod. My MoM Gave Me Lots Of Love AND Was Very Patient With me. But my dad on the other hand didn't understand but they didn't know I had aspergers. It wasn't till 4yrs ago that when my son was diagnosed with aspergers that I was diagnosed with it. I think that preparation is a big help. Trying to prep them for a big change ahead of time if you can. Recognizing when something is about to trigger the sensory overload. Being a shield. When I would get into crowded areas I would hover my son and get him out of there as quickly as possible. I think it's easier to deal with these days then it used to be. Because so many people are aware of it. I wish the police officers knew back then..it wasn't til 2012 that my son has a huge temper tantrum at the library that the librarian thought something was seriously wrong with my son and called the cops on me but when the cop showed up at my door he said to me... have you has your son checked for aspergers? I said what? He repeated again and I said I've never heard of it. He told me about some good physiologists around and then left. He had a son who had it. So it helps when people are aware of it. So I think raising awareness and more understanding of it helps. But like I said when I grew up I was bullied and no one got me except my mom. And now that I'm almost 40 ughhhh lol I've talked to a lot of people who knew me when I was young that know now I have it wish they knew back them. They say... well that explains a lot but honestly I don't think even if they knew would have helped because kids can be cruel and they problem would have called me a special kid. That's why I home school my son and try not to change his schedule to much..he's 15 so I can.leave him at home if I run errands and it works great for all of us but when he starts getting angry I tell him you don't want to do that Caleb you know how you feel so fully afterwards and I just remind him over and over again that he will regret it and he's slowly getting better he's still yelling but with less breaking stuff. But I have to prepare him when his time is up on the computer. OK Caleb you have 10 mons left. OK you have 5 mons left and so on. And lots of praying to God. That is the reason I've come along so far today is my mom just got down on her knees everyday and just prayed hard.
•    Anonymous said… Thank you so much for what you've shared! As the mother of a child w Autism (Asperger's), I am currently and unfortunately battling w the school system to help them understand my son. Your words were exactly what I needed this morning. Thank you and God bless you, your son, and family!
•    Anonymous said… That's a great perspective for an aspie mum to read.....is there something that would have made you feel more understood while you were younger? Im sure it wouldve been a big combination of things but was there one thing that would have really made a difference?
•    Anonymous said… This is the hardest and scariest thing for us to deal with at our house.
•    Anonymous said… This was our first clue that something was going on. The rage and aggression was SO bad. My son has anxiety, and now that he's medicated for it, we don't have these problems any more.
•    Anonymous said… Yes because we are frustrated and misunderstood and feel like we are in our own world and no one understands. I always had an angry and violent temper but I'm much better these days. I've grown and mature. It helps to have mom's who love you and Just keep trying
•    Anonymous said… Yes, they do it out of frustration and actually have no control over it at the time. It can happy over just being miss understood about some thing that has happen or could be there surrounds effecting them due to sensory overload. My son is 7 with Aspergers and yes it does happen. The outbursts can be reduced my sons have now dropped from like 15 a day to only a couple times a week. Knowledge, understanding and patients is the key and always remember there behaviour = communication smile emoticon there body's seem to have anxiety all the time and it never seems to do away so I worked out most things that make his anxiety levels so high and use coping tools to accommodate him and help him through it, sometimes he may need redirecting, sometimes he just needs a helping hand sometimes it's guidanceand for me to take the leed that's when his almost reached breaking/meltdown stage and I haven't picked up on it intime. There are many reasons why the anger I would try and work out what causing his anxiety levels to rise smile emoticon hope that helps xx

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