If your autistic child is exhibiting aggressive behavior, it is best that you determine what is causing this unwanted behavior so you will be able to better handle it. Observe him and try to find out the motivating factors that cause him to be aggressive. What happened prior to his aggressive behavior? Was it triggered by something? If so, what is it?
The first thing you need to do is to identify if your child is in pain. Is he hurting? Is he uncomfortable? For some autistic children, being aggressive is their way of communicating pain especially when they do not have a full grasp of words and cannot communicate verbally. Rule out any medical conditions by bringing your child to the doctor for a medical examination.
If medical causes have been ruled out by your child’s physician, the next thing you need to do is to consult with a behavioral analyst who can help you determine the cause of your child’s aggressive behavior. Knowing your child’s triggers will not only help you understand your child better but it will also allow you to help manage his aggressive behavior better with the hope that you will be able to avoid it altogether.
The behavioral analyst can help you develop a plan to minimize and eliminate the aggressive behavior that you are trying to address. For example, if it was discovered that your child exhibits aggressive behavior in order to get his favorite toy, your behavioral analyst may ask you to withhold giving him the toy whenever he exhibits aggressive behavior. In addition, you may be asked to work with your child to model the desired behavior for getting his favorite toy.
You may also be required to use social stories to emphasize the desired behavior. The goal is to teach your child that aggressive behavior is not going to give him what he wants. Further, he needs to learn that there is an appropriate way to get what he wants.
Keep in mind that changing your child’s behavior cannot be achieved overnight. In fact, you may even think that his behavior is getting worse when you withhold his favorite toy. This should not discourage you. You have to remember that it will take time for him to realize that his aggressive behavior will not longer get him his favorite toy. Just be consistent and over time, you should be able to see some improvement.