The “Help! This autistic kid is aggressive!” Text Version

 

Morning.

WordPress tells me that I’ve been blogging here a year. 🙂

My post including flow chart titled “”Help! This autistic kid is aggressive” is my most popular post.

That is awesome.

However, it has a major problem.  It is inaccessible to people who have difficulties viewing images. The site hosting the flow chart does not have screen reader /alt text capability.  After requests for a more accessible version, I’ve decided to create a companion post that lays out the same questions  in text.

So here we go.

When I’m contacted for advice concerning an aggressive autistic child, I tend to ask this series of questions.Has this child been grabbed, physically forced to comply or in any way had physical boundaries violated? OR are you a disparaging jerk to the kid?

1.  Has this child been grabbed, physically forced to comply or in any way had physical boundaries violated? OR are you a disparaging jerk to the kid?

If Yes, it needs to stop, immediately. Honestly, people who violate boundaries shouldn’t be too surprised kids feel threatened/fight back , I know I did. If this happens at school there needs to be a change in personnel, and clear guidelines on what is and isn’t acceptable  If its at home, counseling is in  order. If its you and you feel angry, make sure the child is safe and  remove yourself from the situation. Walk away, calm down, seek help.

If not ,

2. Does the child have or realize they have the ability to walk away from, elect to avoid, or engage in calming stims to deal with stress?

If Yes, excellent. If not, CREATE THE ABILITY and teach the options. If this isn’t an issue, or problems remain, then,

3.  Is there a sensory friendly place within the environment where child can go to decompress?

If not, CREATE ONE. TEACH THE OPTION.

Send them there yourself if you recognize building stress. Try to help them recognize it themselves.  If that isn’t an issue, or doesn’t help then,

4. Does the child have significant down time in the day to do whatever they want even if it looks like “nothing”?

If they do not, make the time. This is important.  IF structured activities or therapy deny  a child this time, its necessary to re-evaluate your schedule.  If that isn’t an issue, or doesn’t help then,

5. Does the child have choices /options concerning food, dress, leisure, schedule?

If not, provide some. Be flexible.   If that isn’t an issue, or doesn’t help then,

6. Are you working on independence? Is the child given work that challenges but is achievable?

CONSIDER THIS. Frustration from either not being able to succeed, never having anything challenging, or lack of autonomy causes stress for any human being. EVERY person can work on skills towards greater independence, regardless of their impairments.

If that isn’t an issue, or doesn’t help then,

7. Are they hungry or overly tired?

Reader ischemgeek added that hunger plays a role in mood, and sometimes hunger signals are poorly read/go un-noticed.  Getting more to eat, adding a snack time, or rest, may be in order.

If that isn’t an issue, or doesn’t help then,

8. Are they feeling well?

It’s important  to have a professional assess the child’s health/nutrition. How we feel physically affects our mood. A full medical workup and dental care should come before psychiatric medications. (thank you to reader “Ekie” for this suggestion)

If that isn’t an issue, or doesn’t help then,

9. Record Carefully what is occurring before, during, and after incidents of aggression. Look for patterns, and possible triggers. Think about what could be avoidable, or approached differently and change accordingly.

This isn’t just the child, but everything in the environment: other people, location, lighting, sound, smell, room layout, what happened before, what happened after…the time of day…etc. If this only occurs with specific persons, or locations, that is telling. Beware of caregivers/professionals who want to lay blame on autism/child without  working through this list. Also, give changes time before saying it didn’t help.

Finally, if none of that helps,

10. Now may be a time to consider adding or adjusting medication.

I’m going to add this entire line of questions assumes that you have already tried communicating with the child as to what the problem is and either communication issues have prevented you from understanding or doing so just hasn’t helped.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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