I Asked This Question About Childhood Aggression on Instagram
So, my autistic son has anger issues. We have tried so many things, from zones of regulation, to images of exploding volcanoes, to social stories, to rewards…nothing helps because he is angry in a split second. While he used to be very aggressive, he doesn’t lash out as much anymore, although there are still times…
In order to find a ray of sunshine, I asked the autistic community on Instagram: For those of you autistic people who were aggressive as kids, when did the aggression stop? Do you still have anger issues?
I had a fantastic response, but what surprised me was the response I received from other parents asking for the answers too. So, here I am giving a generalized breakdown of the responses.
A few people, sadly, responded that it hasn’t stopped. One of these went on to say that their response is now mostly verbal, however in elementary school it was physical, and during meltdowns it was the worst.
Someone else mentioned that they still have anger issues, but they stem from a lack of understanding and communication, and this leads to a lot of violent meltdowns. They said the most important thing is to show understanding and when the aggression happens, to make sure the child feels safe, and they know everything is going to be OK. They need to know they are supported at all times, even through the aggression.
Another person responded that they were scared out of their aggression by the time of kindergarten (by abusive parenting) but they still have anger issues. What surprised me is that they said the anger is always directed at themselves.
The good news is that most people responded that the aggression improved, and even went away, in the early teenage years. They mentioned that they still get overwhelmed, and can even feel rageful, but they handle it by getting alone time instead of being aggressive. One person mentioned if they don’t get their alone time, they can have a meltdown and become aggressive.
Given that the majority of people said their aggression eased up by early teenage-hood, I am convinced that it is mostly a maturity issue. When our children’s brains are ready to handle their anger in more appropriate ways, they will be more apt to do so. We can still support them and help them along the way by redirecting them to better ways to vent their rage (and one person recommended kids yoga as a good way for teaching them self-regulation), but I think it is really positive that our children could simply mature out of this aggressive stage.
I hope this helps other parents of autistic kids, as it does me.