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What Is the Connection Between Autism and Anger?

Children with autism often throw tantrums.
In some situations, young children with autism can feel overwhelmed and frustrated.
Art therapy has shown promise in helping autistic children deal with anger.
Some with autism may act out violently in response to a perceived threat.
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  • Written By: Brandon May
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2014
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Living with autism is no easy task and often involves symptoms such as anger, anxiety and stress, not to mention the mental learning challenges that accompany the disorder. It is well known that autism and anger issues often coincide, making the disorder more difficult to handle at times of stress. When an individual suffering from autism becomes anxious or stressed about something he or she can't understand or feels as though he or she is being attacked, anger and tantrums are likely to follow. With autism and anger, it is hard for an individual to calmly analyze a difficult situation to determine a solution.

Research has shown that those suffering from autism are prone to anxiety issues, whether it be around other people or around new objects or changes taking place in their lives. Often, it can become quite challenging to deal with these situations, leading to emotional problems and behavior issues. It is suggested that autism and anger is commonly linked in individuals suffering from autism due to the confusion that can often take place when trying to learn something new or when confronting an uncomfortable change in surroundings. Many other symptoms like depression or nightmares are also common in those suffering from both autism and anger issues.

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Helping a child or adult with autism prepare for a new situation or change takes time and effort on a caretaker's part. The time and effort spent helping an individual with autism may be very helpful in preventing stress and anger later on when another change in the environment takes place. Many psychologists suggests explaining new situations slowly, over a period of time, to an individual suffering from autism and anger issues. This technique may prove to be very helpful and may reduce the need for having to resort to various sedatives.

When an autistic child or adult becomes violent due to his or her anger issues, medications to bring down the emotional response may be necessary. This can prevent any harm from occurring to any individual or surrounding objects, as well as helping to bring down unnecessary stress on the body. In cases of moderate or less severe autism, relaxation techniques may be helpful in reducing stress, anger and anxiety. These techniques may include using guided imagery, deep breathing or art therapy, all of which show promise in dealing with autism symptoms like stress and anger.

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anon934875
Post 4

I so agree with the first post. My son, who is 12, has always had emotional escalations that include physical aggression. In most cases it is coupled with stress that follows either a 'difficult to perceive' social interaction or after 'he feels' attacked. I am about to lose control because he is 'huge' for his age and I'm afraid I'm going to end up in court. He is the sweetest and most loving kid ever. But when he escalates, it's scary.

anon341811
Post 3

An expert has made the suggestion of Asperger's in my case. I am myself a psychology student, and I have doubts about the validity of the test. The result could be caused by fatigue, but yes, I did not understand the social situations well. I also have problems with recognizing faces directly. People hurt me because of this.

When people hurt me (in general) I react easily this way. Maybe I just search for confirmation (that it is like this, or not), or maybe I just feel depressed. But I get easily fixated in this sadomasochistic scheme. I have feelings; I am even hypersensitive, but I cannot control my emotions when I don't have a clear explanation about the hidden motives.

I think this tendency shows clearly that people with autism are not not of this world. They have obsessions, and in my case a lot has to do with emotion, and they often isolate themselves. But maybe this is often due to this incredible anger and hurt when they approach or are approached by others. Maybe their attribution process is less automatic, but their emotions are not. This brings a spill over. They need to calculate everything and need to have more volition than others, I think. It's pretty hard.

anon323390
Post 2

I have an autistic boyfriend (Aspergers' Syndrome) and I do not agree with what you say, anon311567. It is difficult, yes. But if there are agreements and understandings about one another, living together becomes a joy, rather than a nightmare.

I must say, it's the best relationship I've been in a long time. These people need understanding from the community. We have to help them understand our world, in return, we can learn something from them too. What you say about staying away from them only proves you are not worldly and are afraid of anything out of the ordinary. Please stay in your comfort zone and don't speak of things you don't know anything about.

anon311567
Post 1

I have had two different roommates on the autism spectrum in my years in higher education, and let me tell you, it is very very difficult for both you and them to live together. There are lots of misunderstandings. I often felt provoked. They were aggressive and one of them stalked me. At times, I wondered if I was living with a sociopath; it was that bad.

The female was more socially rude and awkward, and the male was very aggressive and authoritarian. My advice? If you can help it, stay clear and do not live with these people.

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