Autism is a developmental disorder seen in children from 3 to 18 years. Parents can sense autism in their child if he doesn’t respond to his name or avoid eye contact, doesn’t smile when they smile at him, have repetitive movements or getting very upset if he doesn’t like a specific thing e.g. taste, smell or sound.
Autistic Children cannot express themselves as normal kids and therefore they take their frustration out in many ways. Sometimes they behave very aggressively towards a person, situation or even themselves.
They may kick and throw objects and hurt themselves or others. At school they may get so aggressive sometimes that they hit their teachers or the staff at school and they just get out of control.
Headbanging and throwing things at others are observed in Autistic Children. These children don’t express anger, fear, anxiety and frustration like normal children. Mostly their hitting behavior is a way of self-defense.
Autistic Children Show aggression, harm themselves, their teachers, siblings and people interacting with them due to multiple reasons.
Autism Aggression Reasons
- They do not understand the situation or whatever is happening around them.
- They do not get the idea of what people are trying to say and non-verbal communication.
- They cannot convey their message.
- They cannot communicate their needs and wants.
- They cannot express which activity they want to perform, and which irritate them, which object they want at a specific time.
- They are very anxious and confused.
- They are very sensitive towards noise or any environmental stimulus.
- They want to escape from a situation and hide in their comfort zones.
All these reasons lead to the challenging behavior of Autistic Children. They show restrictions and rigidity in their actions. There are specific ways in which an autistic child should be dealt with, or it can give rise to many issues.
Their fellows stop interacting with them and get afraid of them as they experience a sudden aggressive attack. It becomes hard for the teachers to handle such children. In many cases Autism is caused by genetic mutations.
It is not imprinted in bold words over a rigid stone that these children will remain like that for their entire life. They can be helped and taken care of by their parents, teachers, trainers, medical professionals, siblings and friends.
Paying attention to the child’s needs and searching for hidden meanings can definitely help develop a peaceful environment with autistic children.
They have to be dealt with concern and focus. A sensory break can help these children regroup and refocus.
They have a different way of sensing and perceiving things. Be gentle with them. Try to communicate and take time out for them as they depend on you for their physical, mental and emotional stability.
Your constant effort and concern can fix them and make them function normally for the rest of their lives.
Can you Discipline a Child with Autism?
Understanding your child’s needs and demands can surely change or reduce aggressive behavior. He cannot communicate well e.g. if he does not like an apple and cannot tell you. He may hit you as a way of saying “Take it away I do not like it”.
You can help him by shortening your phrases by saying sit down instead of saying “Oh Adam come here my child sit with me”.
If you feel that he does not respond well while performing a certain activity switch that activity with something else for that time instead of sticking to it.
Move your child to a safer place where he cannot harm himself or someone else. Teachers often get hit by an autistic child. They need to be firm but gentle with such a child.
Autism and Visual Processing
An autistic child is mostly a visual thinker. He understands the images better than the language. Make flashcards with colorful images to teach them and keep them interested. Do not give them long verbal instructions.
They should be taught in their comfort zone e.g. most of these children are good at drawing, art or computer work. If their worst handwriting irritates them, let them type in a computer.
Too much light and noise can make them feel threatened. Provide them an area where it is calm, and the light is not too bright. Communicate with them in the language they understand better.
Some of them are very good at dealing with numbers. Give them toys and blocks to memorize numbers and alphabets.
Change the location of the teaching place, if you keep on teaching in the same place, they can get frustrated and bored that can surely induce aggression. Be slow on them. Don’t try to overload them by giving them too much to learn in one day.
See Also: How to Deal with Autism in Adults
How to Teach an Autistic Child not to Hit
An autistic child can be taught not to hit either at home, school or outside if he is treated in the way he feels comfortable and safe.
First of all, you need to focus on what the child wants to do, not what you want them to stop doing. It gets hard sometimes to handle such a child.
It’s frustrating, tiring and exhausting but you have to take deep breaths and remind yourself that your words sound calm.
To stop him from hitting first of all you have to prevent the situations or circumstances which can trigger the aggressive behavior of him. You have to observe and access how often the child starts yelling or hitting.
Who he hits and why, as some kids hit walls or bang their heads, some hit their siblings and friends, some hit teachers and staff at school you have to look into this matter too,
Then after this you have to consider the age of the child either he is a 2-Year-old or a 15-year-old punching people in faces, the behavior is the same in all ages i.e. hitting but the way and consequence of it can be way different.
Some kids hit other people when they are told they cannot have something they ask for or if they are asked to stop doing an activity they want to continue, some of them hit themselves when they are bored or irritated.
After that you have to look at which things prevent them from hitting e.g. if the child gets free access to his I pad, or he remains all day in the swimming pool and that lifts his mood and reduces or changes the aggressive behavior.
You can surely get an idea or can make up a plan to change his mood when he intends to hit to stop him from hitting. The thing about hitting is that it doesn’t come in isolation. It happens along with the screaming, yelling, kicking and shouting so you have to assess the mode of such sounds or noises the kid makes when he hit, either the sounds he is making Is of anger or pain or frustration or anxiety and then you have to eliminate that cause at that time to stop him from hitting.
The child can defiantly be stopped from hitting if you take a deep look and find answers to what is inducing the behavior to hit? Which situations can make the hitting more extreme?
Important steps to Discipline an Autistic Child
- Avoid situations that trigger aggressive behavior.
- Teach your child using effective methods.
- Reward the child if he expresses himself in a positive way.
- Involve him in lively activities.
- Take him to fun places, such as a theme park or where you think he enjoys more.
- Let him adopt his own ways. Do not try to force your ways on him.
- Figure out your child’s needs and demands.
- Search for the hidden meanings in his aggression or unusual behavior.
- Make him feel safe and comfortable.
- Seek professional help.
It is surely possible to discipline an autistic child for hitting either its hitting someone at home or school such as teachers or staff or even himself. All they need is attention and time.
As their parent or teacher, you have to show positivity, gentleness and kindness towards them. Treating them harshly can make them more stubborn and aggressive for the rest of their lives.
They should be structured in their early stage. There should be specific timings for everything. Speech therapy once in 5 days a week can help. Also playing games with them and teaching them through those games can help a lot.
They should be served meals with everyone else present at the table so that they might observe and adopt the same manners. They should be kept under observation and should be provided with a safe place where they cannot harm themselves or anyone else. Be gentle, positive and calm to build up their presents and futures.
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