Aggression

My mom and I have been discussing my son’s violent/aggressive behavior. She says “I hope this stops before he’s a 6ft tall teenager beating you up.”

She thinks his behavior is not normal. I relate it to his autism. Are autistic kids more aggressive then “normal” kids, or is she right in saying this has nothing to do with autism?

I’ve read autism blogs that discuss biting and hitting but they are few and far between.

I know part of my son’s behaviors are due to him being non verbal. He gets so frustrated that no one is understanding what he’s saying that he lashes out.

But that’s only part of it. Let’s take today for example. He was extremely hyper and flappy all day. He was also the most violent he’s ever been in one day.

We’d be sitting down watching a movie and he’ll run over and punch me or bite me. The biting me part is new. He used to ONLY bite his dad. (not that that’s any good either).

I still have a huge bite mark on my wrist from where he bit me this morning while I was trying to get him to take his antibiotic.

He is constantly screaming, pushing, punching (yes punching, closed fist and all), slapping, spitting, and biting.

He has never seen anyone act out any of these behaviors, so I strongly believe it is not learned.

His daycare swears he’s the sweetest angel there and there have been no incidents of aggressive behavior. He does it around people he knows (parents, grandparents, and friends). He also does it when we go out in public.

I know some of it is the “terrible twos” but I can’t help but think its not all related to that.

Please tell me I’m not alone here. Please tell me that I’m right in thinking it has to do with his autism. Or tell me I’m wrong. I’m man enough to handle it.

I’d greatly appreciate it if you could share your stories, advice, or experiences with me.

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10 Comments

  1. My younger brother is severely autistic. From the days I can remember, clearly – when he was 7 or 8 years old, to his turning 16 this past April – he has had extreaml violent behavior, on occasion. Truthfully, he is the sweetest teen. He asks please, or more, or candy (in sign).
    However, he does have his crazy side.
    He used to like dropping televisions on the floor. He also likes dropping the coffee maker on the floor, along with coffee cups and pretty much anything glass. He used to punch through windows, also.
    One of the most violent things, that he used to do was that he would take his hand, curled his fingers in, and hit me, my mother, or brother, father, or even a friend or two, on the crown of the head. It boggles the senses completely – your world turns upside down and you see stars.

    I can say, from being there, there are definitely violent spouts. And it is scary – at 16, he’s more brawny than my father, about a head taller than me, and has about 50 pounds on me as well. It is very scary. He bites himself and draws blood. He will crouch down on the concrete, and head but the ground with all of the force he can muster. He screams and jumps and cries, and for being around 200 pounds and 6 foot, it is terrifying.

    One time, He was mad at me – I remember it clearly because he had tried to steal my drink, which I knew he wouldn’t have liked. I told him ‘NO!” he screamed and cried, and as I walked past the television, he pushed it down and on me. Now, this wasn’t some flat screen, plasma screen. No, this was an old school, nearly 500 pound television. I tripped, and thankfully, the cord caught it before it landed, and I pulled my legs out from under it. If it hadn’t been caught, I would have had some severe injuries, and possibly electrocution.
    He laughed and laughed and laughed, right afterwards. It scared the life out of me.

    The life is scary, thrilling, and harsh. I have lost friends. I have gained them. I have defended him in public, and shamed mothers for saying silly things, like my mother should keep him under control. I have a puzzle piece, tattoo’d above my outer wrist, in light blue, red and yellow. I get questions all the time, and I give advice and sympathy for people who are going through the same.

    I can tell you. I have been bit. I have been punched. I have been kicked. I have had things thrown at me. By my little brother.
    But I can also say I have been burned. I have stepped on glass. I have almost broken bones, and had stitches. I have pushed him out of the way, so I could take the harm. in an effort to make sure he is safe.

    Sometimes, when my little brother is acting out in public, people have the audacity to ask my mother how she can do it. Her only response is, “How can I not? He is my son.”

    I cannot understand what my mother goes through. I cannot comprehend the difficulties a parent might have. No one can – not a sibling, a friend, or a grandmother. But I can say that as a an older sister, I would give anything to make sure he lives a full life, with happiness and memories that he would love. I made sure he got the most cotton candy at the fair. I made sure he went on his favorite rides at the carnival. I made sure that he gets the best food, before anyone else in the house. I made sure that when he went swimming, I knew how to perform CPR, so he would always be safe.

    The agression will not stop. It will slow for periods of a time, and it will come back. it will leave for a week, a month, a year – so long where you think they have gotten over it. Then the dam breaks, and hell follows with the water, for a short while. But we bounce back. We learn to love, to forget, to forgive, to let go. To ride out the wave – to ride out the tsunami.

    It is VERY common in children with autism. Either it is self-harm (Biting, scratching, punching themselves) or an outward aggression, (biting, head-butting, kicking others). My stories include a child who doesn’t understand the world he sees, and is frustrated because he cannot communicate the things he wants. Not all cases are this violent. But know this – you are certainly not alone.

    • Your comment brought me to tears. He is so lucky to have the sister that he has. And thank you for sharing this story with me. That is why I started blogging; so I could connect with people, share my stories, and let other people know they’re not alone. It’s always nice to get the reassurance that someone else has been through it or is going through it too. My son used to hurt himself only (still does but not nearly as often) and is now directing it all to other people. He used to hand bang the tile floor repeatedly and head bang the metal knobs on drawers as hard as he could. He nearly busted his head open one time and acted like it was nothing. His lack of communication skills, his no sense of pain, and no sense of fear or danger is what scares me the most. I always wonder if this is just a phase or is this something I will still be dealing with when he is 16. Again thank you so much for replying and for being an advocate for your brother.

  2. My son is five and very verbal, but he still has trouble finding ways to express what is bothering him. He recently had a bout with aggression that seemed to come out of nowhere. I reached out to some fellow blogger parents and admitted that I was ashamed of being beaten up by a preschooler. It went on for almost three weeks before I figured out what was going on. There were several things happening to him at once, and I didn’t know about the ones that were taking place at school. He was behaving perfectly fine at school. He holds it together well, but when it is just him and I he knows he is safe and he lets it all go. I wrote about my experience here: http://pdd-nos-life.blogspot.com/2012/04/getting-our-groove-back.html For my son, once the things that were troubling him passed, so did the aggression. But he still likes to headbutt when he is frustrated. I am working hard to teach him how to re-direct that feeling away from hurting another person. I hold my two hands in front of him with palms toward him and offer to let him push. He pushes his forehead into my palms and pushes me as hard as he can. Its sort of like a pressure release valve. He has gotten now to where he will sometimes come and ask me if he can push. I also suggest that he can squeeze his memory foam pillow or punch a pillow. I am seriously looking for an inexpensive used punching bag for him. He just needs something with a lot of resistance when he feels angry or frustrated. Best of luck to you. I hope you can figure out what has brought this on.

  3. My son’s violent behavior, beginning really at age 3, was what led me to get the help that led to his diagnosis. When he is having a meltdown whoever is in the way is going to get hurt. I have learned to step in immediately to protect his sisters, and am often the one with the scratches, bite marks, and sometimes bruises. He spits, he kicks, pinches, does whatever he possibly can to release the inner rage. Later he hugs and kisses and says he’s sorry and is just the sweetest boy you couldn’t ever imagine, but in that moment….my little boy gets replaced by someone I once thought just might be the devil. My strategy for handling his aggression is to do all I can through adaptations to avoid meltdowns, and then attempt to redirect his sensory seeking manic behavior. I will put him on the trampoline and help him jump really high and hard, I will hold his feet and let him walk on his hands like a wheelbarrow, I will put him in the shower and tell him he can’t come out until he can talk again, and sometimes I just sit on my bed and let him come at me. He runs, I catch him, drop him on his back on the bed, and he gets up and does it all over again…dozens of times. I don’t know if any of this helps, but I want you to know that yes, aggressive behavior is a trait of autism, in our house anyway.

  4. Alexandra, your reply moved me as well. my daughter, almost nine, stands 4’8″ and 125lbs. she hurts me when she flies into her “rage attacks”. I too used to feel ashamed that my kid beats on me. I have been melted with rocks, jabbed in the back of the neck, whaled on the shoulder and my seatbelt yanked all while driving, and most recently she’s come after me.with a fork. thank God it was not a knife. her aggression has been seeping out this past year but I would say definitely within the past six months it has gotten a lot worse. and, to quote one of the social workers at school, I was “obviously too close if you were getting hit”. well, can’t let her hurt herself now, can I? she picks herself raw, bites, hits, punches, spits, kicks, pretty much if it’s aggressive, she does it. next month we have an appt with her developmental ped to discuss meds. I really don’t want to, but I need to at less research it because it really does scare me most days…I feel for you, autismraisingautism…I really do…prayers for you and your little guy 🙂

  5. My son has given me double black eyes, constant bruises, pulled hair, spit, punched, bite, kicked, slapped etc with no-one showing him these behaviours- he also curses, insults, threatens etc….. sigh, and the social worker has the cheek to ask if *I* raise my voice at him when he regularly destroys the place….

  6. And I thought I was the only one to be beat up by a preschooler! My son is 3 and verbal, but can’t actually communicate very well. He tends to get aggressive when he is learning new skills. So usually about every 3 months I get hand print shaped bruises all over me. He usually regulates himself pretty well all things considered. His therapists tell me that as he learns something new, something has to give for awhile. He is also an angel in school. His aggression is usually only taken out on me of course.

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