Temper tantrums and other angry outbursts are common in children with autism. One reason is that oftentimes, autistic kids have trouble regulating their emotions, according to the Aspeger’s Society website. Instead of threatening or punishing your child for angry misbehavior, encourage him to express and release anger in appropriate, healthy ways. When he becomes angry, redirect him with a constructive activity to help him cope with, manage and control how he feels.
Temper tantrums are a natural part of the toddler stage, but especially so for children with autism, since they tend to have trouble managing feelings. Like other toddlers, autistic toddlers often communicate strong feelings, such as anger, through actions and behaviors. Encourage appropriate expressions of anger with pounding or throwing activities that redirect energy and guide emotion in a structured, constructive way. Give your child a toy hammer and encourage her to pound away at pegs, foam blocks or other toys, or hand her a bouncy ball to throw against a wall or at stacked blocks.
Encourage preschoolers to manage and express anger through words. Read books together and discuss character feelings with your child. Ask, for example, “Why is Johnny angry? How can you tell?” and talk about the possibilities together. Puppet play can help children represent and express feelings of anger by using props. Take your youngster out in the back yard for some running and physical play, which can help autistic children release pent-up energy and vent frustrations.
Autistic adolescents can benefit from simple anger management techniques or therapeutic activities, like whaling on a punching bag or going for a run. Teach your teen counting, meditation or breathing techniques for controlling anger. Or, encourage him to explore music and find songs to play and sing along with that capture his feelings of anger.
Activities for All Ages
Arts and craft projects are a constructive way for autistic children of all ages to properly and meaningfully express anger and other emotions. Encourage children to finger paint with brisk, aggressive hand movements to express their feelings through a work of abstract art, or promote sensory experiences with sculpting activities that require children to squeeze, smoosh and pound clay. Exercise can also help children of all ages release energy, frustration and stress while also encouraging motor development and fitness.