It’s not uncommon for children on the autism spectrum to face certain challenges that lead to meltdowns. In fact, upto 20% of individuals with autism exhibit aggressive and even violent behavior. These behavioral issues can arise from the inability to clearly express their thoughts and feelings to others.
Are you a caregiver or parent struggling to manage your child’s aggressive episodes? In this post, we’re sharing different ways to soothe your child during an angry outburst. Take a look.
Identify the Cause
Sensory overload, an unexpected change in routine, and trouble communicating are a few reasons that can lead to serious meltdowns. Identifying the cause is important for finding the best way to manage the situation. Is your child unable to process instructions or hitting and biting? You should also look out for certain signs indicating a potential outburst.
When your child is on the edge of an outburst, try to ask them what’s making them feel this way. That being said, kids with autism can often struggle with effective communication. Is there a noise bothering them? Did they misplace a toy? Are they upset about a change in plans?
Feeling and emotions can be abstract concepts for children with autism. That’s why you should use visual support to help your child express their emotions. You can use a visual scale that represents different levels of anger using numbers or colors.
Try ABA Therapy
It can be difficult to teach your kid how to communicate during an angry outburst. According to several studies, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy is beneficial for children with autism in several ways. Particularly, this therapy helps them learn effective behaviors so that they don’t resort to aggression to express their wants and needs. ABA has been shown to reduce outbursts and improve impulse control.
Provide An Outlet
It’s possible that your child isn’t listening at all and starts getting physically aggressive. Even if they are young, they can hurt themselves or others. If they aren’t willing to talk or don’t want to be touched, try to give them some space. If they feel like throwing or punching something, give them a pillow.
Moreover, we urge you to create a safe space. Quickly remove anything that can potentially break and cause harm. If your child is acting out because of sensory overload, try to create an ambiance they like. This could involve dimming lights or taking them to a quieter area.
Don’t Give Into Demands
You may want to agree to whatever your kids want in the heat of the moment. However, that’s not the best idea. Instead of giving in to their demands, try to come up with a compromise.
These angry outbursts can happen anywhere and anytime. You might feel overwhelmed or embarrassed when such instances happen in public. However, it’s important to understand that your child isn’t intentionally lashing out. Stressing out at such moments is just going to make things worse. Rather than paying attention to bystanders, be patient and focus on providing support to your child.
After your child has calmed down, we urge you to keep a diary mentioning all the details of the episode. In particular, note down the triggers, which will come in handy for preventing future outbursts. Furthermore, it’s also helpful to teach your child about the real consequences of aggressive behavior.
The Bottom Line
Understandably, managing frequent bouts of outbursts can be exhausting and stressful. But it’s important to remember that just because your child is going through a challenging time doesn’t mean you’ve failed as a parent. Fortunately, there are several tools and resources you can use to placate your child as well as teach them to manage their emotions.