Autism and Tantrums

The True Story of a Child Freed from the Bonds of Autism

Autism & Tantrums…

Shrieks exploded from my son’s mouth. He fell to the floor.

I reached down to pick him up. He pulled with all his might the opposite direction. Angry tears ran down his face. It’s incredible how much power an autistic two-year-old can have when resisting what he found hateful. All I wanted to do is teach him a few action verbs. On that particular day, giving up seemed the only logical thing to do. I stood and left the room. Frustration ate at my gut, and fear for my son’s future settled heavily in my heart.

Similar autistic tantrums had happened before, and I felt helpless to stop his outbursts. What did I expect? He was autistic.

The first time I read about behavior management I put it into practice that day. It worked! My son had thrown one of his autistic tantrums at bedtime so I lifted him and set him down in the right direction, complimenting him for going in the right direction (even though I prompted the action). Each time he took a step toward the bedroom, I said, “Yes. Good. That what I want you to do.”

To convert what I learn in that one setting didn’t always work in other situations. But I began to learn behavior management technics that worked. For instance, one key when working at the table was not to give in but worked through the autistic tantrums. If it was time to quit, I waited until I knew he couldn’t connect it to the tantrum.

See for another take on autistic tantrums.

Here are some keys: 1. Don’t focus on the tantrum. It is easy to inadvertently reward a child for a tantrum. Giving them attention for the tantrum sometimes does that. 2. Redirect the child to another task. If you are teaching him something, direct him and give him praise for anything right he does or says. 3. Learn more and more about fun, positive ways to use behavior management. (A good Applied Behavioral Analysis consultant should be able to help you.) 4. Teach every person in your child’s life how to handle tantrums. If just one person gives in, autistic tantrums will resurface.

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Karen Michelle Graham


~ Announcing Hope Over Autism ~


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