Julie Z. Rosenberg @JulieZR

How to Handle the 4 Most Challenging Autism Behaviors

Do you have an autistic child? Here are parenting tips to help.

Does your child scream if he can't wear his favorite shoes? Does he enjoy fondling material of certain textures without regard for where or on whom that fabric may be located? Does he fear the toilet, the market, the dentist?

This was part of a post about "The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism" left by Shannon Des Roches Rosa, mom to an 11-year-old son with autism, as well as a high-profile advocate and educator for autism awareness.

If so, take note -- he's trying to tell you how he feels and what he needs from you: behavior as communication, she continues.

"Pay attention to cues -- what is your child trying to tell you?" says Lynette Fraga, PhD, VP of Early Care and Education and Special Populations at "Parents and care providers have to be incredibly responsive and sensitive to children with autism regarding their behaviors," she says, imparting a necessary vigilance and hyper-awareness on the part of the parent.

Amanda Friedman, co-owner and director of Emerge & See Education Center, agrees, adding, "We need to become translators of our children's behaviors."

After speaking with several child development experts and parents of kids with autism, we highlighted the four most challenging autism behaviors and provide advice on how to best handle them.

  1. Sleep Disruption
    Sleep can be tough for kids with autism, as they tend to have highly sensitive nervous systems. Even the slightest variation in their day can affect their sleep for the night.

    "We have to be extremely careful not to give Leo anything that has any caffeine," says Des Roches Rosa, who lives in Redwood City, Calif. "He can't have any chocolate after 3pm or he will be up all night. He's a very active, athletic boy, so we make sure he gets a lot of exercise during the day. If not, he also doesn't sleep."

    Many parents find that creating a nocturnal oasis helps a lot. Eileen Riley-Hall, author of "Parenting Girls on the Autism Spectrum," says to think sensory-wise: room-darkening shades, a white noise machine, weighted blankets. "Basically anything you can do to make sleep more appealing," suggests the mother of two teenage girls on the spectrum.

    But beware the common pitfall of unwittingly enabling their irregular sleeping habits, says Friedman. "A lot of parents feel that when their child wakes up in the middle of the night they have to get him something to eat, turn on the TV, and immediately cater to the fact that he stirred or woke up as opposed to bringing him or her back to bed. It's just a matter of teaching their bodies that it's still nighttime and we're not going to start the day just because you woke up."

    One way to do this, Friedman suggests, is through visual supports like the TEACCH program method: "Show them a picture of a clock and a picture of Mom and Dad and say, 'You can come into our room when your clock matches this clock.'"

    Autism Speaks offers free downloadable toolkits, one of which is all about sleep.

  2. Food Sensitivity
    "Kids with autism are historically tremendously picky and selective and limited in what they will eat," says Riley-Hall. "It's a sensory thing; you have to have lots of trial and error, certain textures, certain foods." When her girls were younger-they are now 13 and 11-she didn't make them eat anything they didn't want to eat: "For me it's more important for mealtime be pleasurable. Everybody eats more if they feel relaxed, so in the past I have made them something different to eat and then we all sat down together to eat."

    Alison Berkley, co-owner and co-director of Emerge & See Education Center talks about a tactic learned from Susan Roberts, an autism educator and consultant with a specialty in picky eaters.

    Getting your child to eat a variety of foods starts with expanding their tolerance level: "It doesn't even need to be that the child eats a new food but that they tolerate it being on the table," says Berkley. "At the next meal they tolerate it being on the plate and then they tolerate just touching it. Then you can slowly expand their repertoire of food."

    She recommends a slow, gentle and positive approach "because you want them to take their fear and anxiety around food and transform it into a sense of empowerment and a sense of control."

  3. Meltdowns
    Meltdowns happen, that's a given. What matters is how prepared you are and how you can minimize their occurrence.

    "Don't put your child in over his or her head," warns author Riley-Hall, who is also an English teacher at an inclusive high school in upstate New York. "I have parents I talk to who say, 'Well, everyone is going to Six Flags for the day," and I'm like, 'Well, you might not be able to do that.' If you know it's a situation where it's going to be really long or really difficult, you're just sort of setting them up. You have to accept that there are limitations that come with having a child with autism."

    With a tantrum, the child is still in control, they want to get their own way, explains Riley-Hall. With a meltdown, they can't calm down and at that point either they've gotten themselves so upset or so overwhelmed they're no longer in control of the situation. "And they can be difficult to judge," she says. "It's really important not to always give in to meltdowns because you're afraid of them. The basic thing is to hold them and calm them and wait until they can calm down themselves. I know some kids have really egregious meltdowns, so it's important not to put them in a situation where you think they may have one but if they do, just keep them safe and soothe them in whatever way you know works until they can recover."

    If a tantrum happens in public and unwanted eyes (and comments) are directed your way, you can curtail further scrutiny simply by handing out pre-made wallet-size cards that say things like, "My child has autism," with a website listed for them to learn more. You can get these through various autism organizations or make your own.

  4. Aggressive Behavior
    Aggressive and self-injurious behaviors are fairly common in children with autism, says Des Roches Rosa. When her son Leo acts aggressively, it's usually due to sensory overload or frustration with his inability to communicate his needs effectively. "Most times, when people better understand the basis for the aggressive or self-injurious behavior and then accommodate or support the person with autism, things can improve dramatically," she says.

    Des Roches Rosa swears by data tracking: "We keep scrupulous notes about Leo and his behaviors and all the factors in his day." Having done this for years, De Roches Rosa incorporates notes his day: what he eats, how much he sleeps, even whether his father is on a business trip. "We can actually identify seasonal behavioral arcs. So when something is wrong, we can go back and figure it out."

    Certain things can set Leo off, says Des Roches Rosa. "Like a change in barometric pressure, which can really affect his sinuses. When he's acting out there's usually a reason for it and in almost all cases we can find out what it is."

    But when Leo went through an extremely violent phase, Des Roches Rosa called in a behaviorist. "A good behaviorist is purely there to analyze and understand and come up with positive solutions for behavioral issues," she explains.

    So what does Des Roches Rosa do when Leo's in the throes of aggressive or self-injurious behavior? "We have to consider safety first," she says. "We move away, we say very loudly and clearly, 'Stop' or 'No' and make it very clear with a very different, very strict tone of voice that what he's doing is not okay."

Something to Remember
"If you know one child with autism, you know one child with autism," says Dr. Fraga, referring to a popular saying within the autism community. She adds, "There is so much diversity in terms of how autism plays out with each child. The idea that everyone is the same is mythical." This uniqueness can be embraced as well as prepared for.

Julie Z. Rosenberg is a mom to two kids (one of whom has hemiparesis) and lives in Brooklyn, New York. She has written for ParentDish, New York Times' Motherlode and HuffPost Parents, and produced a monthly column on Park Slope Patch, called You Don't Know Jack, about navigating the complex world of being a special needs mom.


Oldest comments are listed first

  • i have a son who is on spectrum. He is non verbal, but we are working on the getting PECs into his life. Life is challenging on all aspects of his life, but we are going to get through it. Not, saying that he will never have it, but hoping to eliminate some of the major daily challengs that prevents him, distracts him, and provokes him. I just want him to live the best possible life that he can and will be able to. It just such a shame and so mind bloggling that 1 out of 88 have autism. Parents. caregivers and providers must keep fighting the fight for the kids that are affected!

  • autism in a child can be quite stressful'I have a lot of patience and understand until they get used to another care taker its hard on the child.

  • This was very helpful info. I have a Autistic Grandson, I keep things very low key with him he seems to do better at my house than in his own home. There they are on a tight schedule to fill every moment of the day with activity rushing to everything even eating. Lots of melt downs in his home.

  • I have a grandchild on the Autism spectrum. For some reason I can calm her down very easily! When I am with her she also understands that getting dirty is part of the fun of playing!!!! The worst part for the child is thinking everything has to be perfect:(

  • I have been a nanny for twins who were diagnosed with PDD-NOS on the Autism spectrum. He was 23 months old and his sister wasn't diagnosed until 33 months. It was my first experience with autism. I love these kids to pieces. We have been through nine months of intensive therapy at their home for nine months. Fortunately sessions worked better having her join in with her brother. When we heard her diagnosis I felt better that she had had the services despite not being a part of the programs we had for therapy. It was quite a learning experience. I took them to eye doctors, Dev. Medicine at Children's Hospital, their pediatrician, more eye doctors, and their were nine therapist coming to the house every day, M-F. We put up a whiteboard in the kitchen just to keep things organized. They were so fortunate to have good health care, great servics avaialble to them through Minuteman Arc, and one person to be with them through every moment of all of it. I think the most important thing I did and still do for them is to keep them calm and happy, on a fairly strict schedule, (less rigid now with therapy being over), and making sure they got plenty of rest at naptime and that they ate, unprocessed, fresh, healthy meals and beverages. Often it took alot of explaining to the parents and grandparents (who lived with them) but, gradually everyone started to see that the way that I did things made a big impact and helped to get the kids where they needed to be. I was always the disciplinarian at the house and the kids needed that. It helped them to understand what was expected of them. It made for much easier days for them...and for me. They are doing very well now. It was worth all the effort. Their issues have not completely gone away but, there are many less tantrums and/or meltdowns than there used to be. I had to learn what would cause one to come on and try and diffuse it beforehand. Really knowing these two made a difference. I spent 50-54 hours a week with them so it wasn't hard accomplishing that. The worst part is that their parents have minimal time with them. They are in denial to some degree still. When one or both of them are home they go off the wall. I hate seeing them like that. They do whatever they can to get their parents a negative way...its just aweful! They drag these two around on vacation or on weekends and overdo it. I see the aftwrmath every Monday morning when I have to try and get them back to \

  • My grandson use to strike himself in the head with his hands constantly. I felt that since he wasn't able to speak that he was trying to communicate that something was wrong in his head area. I also notice that his eyes were behaving as though he was having a mild spasm. I began to massage his head on a regular basis and found gradual improvements in his behavior.

  • I have a son with autism and Down syndrome. This is a very good article. And Heidi's post is also especially informative. It gives real life insight and practical advice. The bottom line is, when you have a child with autism, or care for a child with autism, you have to learn how to listen with things other than your ears, how to be a great detective, and willing to find new ways of doing things. Thanks for the article and to Heidi for wonderful comments.

  • I have a daughter with autism, developmental delays and is totally blind. When she was adopted at age 5 her autism had not taken hold. 1 1/2 years later you could see the difference. One thing you have to know is that it is time consuming, 24/7 care and you will break down. Just know that its ok, and you are human. But over the years I can tell you it is all about getting to know how that child functions. Also know that they pick up if you are frustrated, tired, sad etc. You have to have a network of help, you will not beable to do this by yourself and know that this to is ok. Tina does not like to be in a group, or interact with a bunch of people all the time. She would rather sit and listen to music. Or lay down and listen to music and that is fine. She will never be a rocket scientist or teach school so education is not important. Not having friends in the traditional sense is also ok. As long as she is happy it works for her. No, she is not at home being that her sister and brother are both middle schoolers and I must earn a living. We are now going through the process of finding the right placement. One that will allow her not to be drugged out and just have the time it takes to develop the ability to read her like a book. Change of caregivers, schedule, foods etc. can set her off into a major melt down. At this time it is unavoidable but hopefully we can come to a happy medium. There are very few organizations that deal with multi-disabilities. So, as a parent know that you must gleen information that will best help your child and situation. It is a never ending job but then so is parenthood and if you made that committment then just know you need to do it to the best of your ability. Know you are not alone!! Tina turned 21 last Friday and I can honestly say that I would do it all over again. Just looking at her and knowing that somewhere inside of that beautiful young woman is pure love. I have had to change my thinking and what I was taught in order to be a better parent to her. Don't think that the \

  • Barbara , most kids on the Autism Spectrum need a strict schedule. They live by it, that's the only way to keep them going.

  • We just found out our 2 yr old has autism we r having a hard time getting him to sleep eat or calm down around certain ppl. He is violent towards his sister an me n his dad need help

  • Barbara - sounds like your approach may work better for him. While It's documented that many kids with autism do better with strict schedules, in the last ten years I've worked closely (1:1) with more than 25 individuals with ASD between the ages of 3 and 21 (mostly 3-10), and of them only three - 3 in 25 - benefitted from a strict schedule (and in all 3 of those cases, a change in schedule is cause for a huge meltdown). Most did better with a looser schedule (first this, then this, then that) and some do not need pre-determined schedules at all (beyond stuff like \

  • My 3 year old has autism. She's very violent. I need assistance in a very bad way...resources would be very helpful. I'm disabled cardiac and in poor health.

  • My 3 year old grandson has not been diagnosed yet. He stays here very often, but oviusly I don't have custody. so I am unable to get him help I have a signed statement from my daughter as of 3 days ago saying I have permission to take him. can anyone help with where I can get him tested or any help I love him so much please any information or help would be apperciated

  • My foster child has been diagnosed with autism. He screams profanity, pees and defecates and makes lewd comments during his tantrums. His tantrums have lasted up to four hours. Is that typical of an autistic child or is that more of a behavior issue?

  • We are in need of advice, we have a grandson who turned 14 this year. He hasADHD and is Bipolar and is Autistic , has been for a very long time.He is very smart in school but the last year has been disrespectful toward his mom, there are two other siblings in the home.out of control and he sees a physictrist and goes to a councillors.police have come to there home because he gets in his moms face Our daughter is married but not to his father ,I'm lost for words we try to give good loving advice but that is no help. I myself do not know all the pros and cons.I have to educate us as grandson was so happy when he was young. Caring grandma

  • I am an Educational Specialist and work at a local high school with moderate/severe disabilities, ages 14-22. I've worked with students that have Autism for over 15 years. I counsel the parents of students with challenging behaviors and medical conditions to: 1. become experts in their disabilities by reading and attending seminars; 2. get organized and advocate for your children, because you are their ultimate and final advocate; 3. collect data on the behaviors and be flexible in teachable moments; 4. find highly preferred objects and activities and use these to negotiate appropriate behaviors; 5. practice and develop a communication system to address escalations; 6. use technology to develop opportunities for self advocacy, interaction and learning; 7. finally, learn to delegate and seek out resources. Realize that eventually students will grow up and you will grow old. They will grow stronger and you will become weaker. The parent's goal should be to help provide structure, organization, expertise and advocacy for your child. Learn what works and doesn't. It is important to realize that you are your child's most important ally and only by learning everything you can and trying your best will your child have his/her best chances in developing independent and appropriate life skills. It is not an easy path, but realize that you are not alone and draw comfort from the support and facilitation you are providing to this special human being, who could be anyone of us at any time. Your child is lucky to have you as a parent, so don't be shy in seeking out answers and solutions....pace yourself. You may look back and realize how much your son and daughter have taught you over the years. Hang in there!

  • I have a 18 year-old autistic son who is extremely violent toward myself mainly because I am around him the most, but he's violent toward other people too. He does things to hurt others but is never reprimanded for his actions.I call the police when these attacks happen onlyvto be told to pick him up from the hospital after a few hours.I finally told the hospital that he's not allowed in my home again and they said well he needs a place to go well my hone is no longer a place for his abuse on my family. It hurts to go through something like this especially when you want help but can't get it because of lack of resources if you don't have Medicaid.

  • My four year old son was diagnosed with autism three months ago! His GAF is a 42. I feel selfish in saying I am terrified for him! It really breaks my heart! This world is cruel enough facing it without something like autism! I guess i have a few questions. what are some tips for a mother just finding out she has a autistic child? Is it possible for him to lead a happy normal life? Also I would like to know some tips to help with his screaming and aggressive behavior?

  • whew, were to begin. I wish I had a child that was on the higher end of the autism spectrum. There, I said it. My daughter is 21, not physically handicapped for sure! She's as strong as an ox! If you took one look at me you would believe it. I am a single stay at home mom/care provider for my daughter. I have lot's of support, verbally anyway. Everyone seems to know how to treat my life situation but that's pretty much where it ends. My daughter graduates from high school next week (ha! ha! ha!it's for the teachers to say good bye). As I see it, I have 9 day's left until I am in \

  • Love, care, understanding, acceptance, communicate even it is hard, sharing, and praying. These, will help. I have an 8 yr old son with the same spectrum.

  • Good article but title can be misleading. These are behaviors that are challenging for a child with autism, NOT behaviors associated with autism or because of autism.

  • For Tracey aka genna's what a great post. I am anja aka lachlans mum he is 16 years old as of yesterday 22 June and is a non verbal autistic and since he was about 11 we have had some very very violent outbursts ...god luv him 85% of the time he's a real sweetie but that anger and frustration and not not feeling 100% and not being able to communicate that has turned him into a violent monster !he has given me a bloody nose a black eye punched me etc etc I am sure there are lots and lots of people out there with children with the same agonizing problem....yep. We all just cope the best we can and try and protect ourselves the best we can.....kudos to you Tracey as my husband works away 6 months of the year and I am so grateful to have a spare set of hands when he's home and lochie is the youngest of 3 other children so the older ones are now able to lend a hand so man oh man I really really feel for someone going it alone with an autistic child my heart hurts for you ,this is a very very lonely job being the sole carer for a special needs child and the isolation can be very lonely indeed but I hear you roar dear Tracey and I hear you !!!!loud and clear body is trying to take away from kids on the spectrum but boy oh boy when you are dealing with low functioning full on AUTISM well let's just say ???you know your alive and sometimes you really wish you were'nt but we keep on trudging up the hill of life and keep being the advocates for our children who do not fit the \

  • Anja, thank you for the understanding words. I am doing better now that Miss Genevieve is back on risperidone. It has been several years since she last took it. Due to her weight gain and then fatty liver, I had to take her off of it. I did forget how much help it is for both of us. I now just have scars all over my arms from the pinching, a constant reminder of how out of control things can get. We are headed to the doctor today for a blood draw to see how well her liver enzimes are doing with the meds. I did not want to medicate her but the violence was really getting out of hand. I don't want her to be hauled off by the police. She would react even worse. The meds have slowed her brain down and maybe touched on the petit mal seizures she used to have. Now I know the culprit for that! Did anyone see the news of Kelli Stapleton? She is in jail for trying to kill her autistic daughter and herself. I won't explain her story, you all should look it up, then read the comments after. Interesting. Thank you for the acknowledgement Anja, a mom who get's it.

  • I have a son when is almost 21 now. We experienced violent tantrums starting about his 18th birthday. We went to several doctors until we got one who finally was able to control his outburst. His outburst usually means throwing all remote controls mobile phones tablets biting his arms biting my arms pulling his mom's hair. Even with respiridone at 1 mg in morning and 2 mg before bedtime plus 1/4 tab clonazepam each 3x a day it still happens about once every 2 months. But what's puzzling for us is that his tantrums we found out is trigered by the song \

  • Tracy, my son is also 21 and your story sounds exactly like mine.

  • Ok, so the rispradal is in her system now and was working ok for awhile, however now it's not. I hate this stuff! She has gained about 20 lbs. in a couple of months. Glenn, you've got it bad! My daughter does the same thing but only when she hears any of the Barney songs, so it's easier for me to control that. Plus she has no clue how to go online or change TV channels thank goodness. may be onto something significant. There must be a certain tone that can freak them out, like maybe the brain won't accept it because of nerve damage? I am going to figure this one out, very interesting. Does anyone else have this happening? These poor kiddos! Carol, sorry to hear that. It's pretty sad that there is no REAL help for us, the parents, the constant caregivers. I'm going to go out on a limb here, I live in WA. state by Vancouver. If any of you live around here please let me know. I am having a hell of a time finding day activities for Genevieve. She is sitting idol now and so is her brain. I tried to take her for walks but with the lymphodema being so bad, it really hurts her to cram her foot into a shoe! End of story. Oh, and my teeth being knocked out issue, $350 co pay to get new teeth. Wonder if I can do a fund raiser for myself? LOL! Too bad, so sad.

  • My son is actually a mild tempered young man but now more than ever his libido is driving him nuts. He turns 31 this week and the doctor has prescribed zoloft to calm the urges but they seem to have gotten worse. He is at the point where he approaches male and female. He has feelings that he doesn't know how to handle. This is breaking my heart. My friend says we need to establish dialog. I have tried talking to him. What do you suggest?

  • my son who is 11 is the sweetest and really funny. But he has his moments when he snaps and throws glass cups and breaks them. He gets very physical with his older brother only. He hits kicks and verbally loud. The sad part of it is he know exactly what he is doing. Sometimes I get so frustrated to as why he is angry and violence. He is big and strong and he hurts. I don't know what to do becoz it will get worse. He weighs 135 at this young age. How can I help him when I work full time, lots of other things with this stressful generation. Any advise is appreciated

  • My 11 year old son has gotten increasingly violent in his outbursts. Last year it was SIB, now it is toward people. He broke my nose in two places this Wednesday. He was sent by emergency detainment to a mental health facilia (discharged within 24 hours and said they could not help him). He uses his fists and head as his weapons. He gets stuck in the cycle and can not get out of them. It is terrifying as I am a single mom. By telling him no or stop causes him to fly off the handle. I wondered if bipolar might be an underlying issue, I get blown off. It is so frustrating as I am getting no help and all doors are slammed in my face.

  • A good read. While reading some heart breaking situations regarding everyone's concern about their loved ones with autism, I would like to share something, I guess we all have to be aware that their behavior (biting,screaming, other disruptive or worst behaviors) serves a purpose. Say, Savanna is throwing fragile stuff. How do we deal with this kind of tantrum? Do we shout \

  • Need helps for taking care of an Autistic boy bad behavior.

  • My nephew was diagnosed with autism this week. He is 6. Since he was a baby I have noticed that he gets very violent easy. When he was 3 he picked up a wooden rocking chair and smashed it into my 4 year Olds face because he walked by him. Violent behaviors happen like this on a daily basis with him and is \

  • hi has any mum tried the g-therapy treatment for their autistic kids? have just came across it and wants to try for my little girl. please share your experience if you have tried it. thanks!

  • Sometimes i really just don't know what to do. I was never taught to be a mother let alone a autism mother. i have barely but two friends and all of my family is gone. I feel so alone. I have my very supportive husband but he works his rump off to make rent and bill while i take care of our children. I have a 5 year old, I have a 4 year old and a 1 year old. the 4 year old has serve autism. He screams from the time he wakes up to the time he falls asleep. its like a baby with collic. i don't know what to do to comfort him. I feed him well and he always has drinks at his readiness. he barely talks 5 words at the most. Which is no, yes, stop it, poop, pee, hungry. if does not get his way he will scream bloody murder throw himself onto the floor bang his head off the walls......i got this 100 day packet when he was diagnosed but i am still so lost....and i am becoming depressed....wish some one would just kill me....

  • I have a friend who has an Autistic 12 yr old boy. I have been around when he has had meltdowns where he has verbally & physically attacked her, shoving her & hitting her. Accuses his younger brother of all sorts of things by 'tattling on him' even when I've seen them and the younger brother didn't do anything. Getting in the car in the drivers seat with me & his younger brother and then locking all the doors so his mom can't get in and looking for the car keys! He has 'run away' many times for hours, thrown 2 dozen duck eggs at her house (she was able to make him clean it up) --- but all of this time she seems to make allowances for his behavior to her and his younger brother. She takes his word over the younger brother and the younger brother is getting resentful. The Autistic boy has gotten upset with me on several occasions and 'run off' from stores we were all in or from restaurants. He has sat in my home and torn up laundry items 'just because he likes to tear things up' his words, he tears up his shirts or his brothers and when the brother tells him to Stop then mom gets mad at the younger brother. He is on medication, is in public school, and has had one 'evaluation stay' at a hospital for two weeks. The mom defends him, condones the behavior, gets angry with the younger son, and really upset with me if I say that she is being abused. So what I want to know is, Is this Normal? I understand that Autistic children have behavioral issues, but this mom is a Licensed Therapist, is it Normal for there to be this much 'denial' and 'scapegoating' going on while the Autistic child gets to 'have his way about everything'? I'm afraid that one of these days he will seriously hurt her or the younger brother, or someone else, since he is bigger and stronger than an average 12 yr old... and then what? Who do I call to get some real answers? Linda

  • @linda I think your friend is doing everything she can to make her family happy and comfortable. When you tell her she is being abused, you are not helping. What is her alternitive? Send him away? Let strangers raise him? The truth is: I don't think anyone truly understands just how difficult it is to raise a child with autism, until you have a child with autism. Don't get me wrong, I think that all parents face difficulties raising their children. The ones raising children with ASD have to change their way of thinking and sometimes handle things a little differently then one would expect with a typical child. I'm glad your friend has someone like you who cares enough to research what her child is going through! The best thing you can do is be supportive and understanding. Good luck to you and your friend!

  • @ keraline..I don't even know you, but reading your post made me so sad. Having a child with Autism is extremely tough, especially when you feel like you are the only one out of everyone you know that is going through it. I'm hear to tell you that you are not alone. My daughter is 4 and has autism as well, and sometimes I feel extremely alone and depressed. I have always wanted to join some kind of support group so that I can meet other moms, but I have yet to do so. If you would like we could be email buddies or something.

  • My child is 13 years of age. He is on the Spectrum of this wonderful thing called Autism. Great child, easy going, never throws a fit, just goes through life. He gets good grades in school, in the subjects he likes, and sucks in the classes he doesn't. It is a nightmare for his mother and I to get him to do the assignments in the other classes. He just doesn't get the concept of doing well in all of the classes. He has a hard time with the basics of life skills at home; chores, showers, teeth brushing, etc...He doesn't get the concept of any type of reward system. Not at home for chores nor for schoolwork. Therapists upon therapists suggest that we reward good behavior, doing chores at home, completing school work on time, with electronic time. It might work for a day or two but the routine falls back into not caring about any type of reward. Then we get to go back into lying about school work, lying about getting things turned in or finished at school, or just lying about home matters just so he can get on an electronic. Some have suggested its an age competency issue and it will get SOME better. Its sad, do let let the child fail in school or life or do you push because it is what you think is the best for the child. Who you? As a parent you think you know your child and what is best for them, but with this damned diagnosis you don't know. You read other peoples struggles and you think \

  • My 3 year old smells this a common trait? He sniffs everything he eats before eating it,also toys,books,other people.He's going on 3.

  • My son is nearly 4 years old and is on the spectrum as of a year ago this may! It has been a roller coaster trying to get him to gain weight so he can get his gtube out that he has had since he was 5 months old! Eating is not a strong suit for him; he's in developmental prek and just started aba therapy once a week.. he speaks well but his behavior is terrible can barely take him any where. He is aggressive and non compliant, he is still in diapers because of his bowels and refuses to sleep in a big boy bed so he is still in a crib! Things are hard and up and down every day; I try and take it all one day at a time. If anyone wants to communicate about their struggles maybe we can be a shoulder to cry on for each other!

  • I have a 21 nonverbal autistic son who has become increasingly aggressive towards us, I feel like we live in hell most days. He can be fine one minute and the next minute he'll attack injurying us and himself, he has broken zo many windows I've lost count, everyday I wake up and pray to God for peace. I have never felt so hopless in my life! Will there ever be anything out there to help families? I know we are not the only ones living this same life as we are!

  • My daughter is 18 and has autism and cerebral palsy. She has many sleepless nights affecting the entire household, tries to control every moment of my days, and is currently screaming bloody murder because she wants to go somewhere and I do not. She has turned the air blue with foul language, has thrown things all over the place, hit me and nothing I do is calming her down. This is just a sample of behaviors that control our family life. She doesn't have a meltdown every day, but often enough to be utterly exhausting for us all. Anyone else have a child like this?

  • I have a 3 year old son who is autistic and I don't know anything about this disorder , I feel completely stupid and helpless in this situation . we have days when I feel like I just can't cope with everything and the meltdowns , also I don't understand sensory at all someone please any suggestions or information you could offer would be greatly appreciated .I've been reading on autism and sensory trying to learn about it . thank you for taking the time to read my post

  • Jackie, my 7 year old has recently started with the violent outbursts that you said your 21 year old has. When this happens, it is just like HELL, like you described. I just wanted you to know you are not alone. Its so scary and also so sad. Sad to think, what can be going on inside them to make them lash out this way. It brings me to tears most times he has these \

  • Glen, My son does something similar - where he freaks out at a certain thing, but will in turn, cause it to happen again. I never can understand that? Why if it bothers you, are you making it happen again?? I wonder, is he trying to get himself warmed up to it?? So maybe when it does happen out of the blue, he will better handle it?? I just don't know, very puzzling

  • I have a 14 year old autistic son. I could see similar problems with what Jeff said. Good and very kind kid, never violent, very polite, ..but he just does not get it..For anything that comes up anything at all it looks like I am talking to a wall..Eating has been a nightmare all these years..I was a physician. Lost my job to care for him. Lost everything to care for him..Now at almost 50 I feel I have nothing. This issue of ours is so Not Rewarding. I am deeply depressed.. I don't know what else to do. School has been a nightmare for nine years. I have to push for everything..all school works..everything..even one meal at school cafeteria. He is so afraid of food. Any kind. There are numerous \

  • Need help. So confused my son is six and a half autistic and has just started to become really aggressive. He constantly wants my attention so I play with him and then give him advanced warning when play is finished and then he starts hurting me and when I give him the stop sign or tell him no it seems to make things worst and all hell breaks loose. Please can someone help me on what to do as this has been going on for a few weeks now and nothing seems to work. I have tried rewards and taking away.

  • I need help to me deal with my 5 yr old son who is autistic he wakes up in the middle of the night crying and screaming that hes hungry

  • My son (my only child) is 5 years old and autistic. I became a first-time Father at the age of 46 and in the delivery room, at the very moment that I saw him for the first time, I felt like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. To this day I have not lost that wonderful feeling. The road has been tough/sad/frustrating at times but he needs me and I am here for him. I read all the postings on this site and MANY of the problems sound familiar. I just want everyone who reads this to know that I think...or rather I KNOW, that all of you are doing an incredible job. It takes a special person to care for an autistic child and the universe has chosen us for some unknown reason. My heart goes out to those of you who feel overwhelmed and I recognize that I may reach that point myself someday. But please, please take comfort from my are not alone and although we have never met, I greatly respect and admire all of you. We are all in this together, \

  • Hello everyone. I have a five year old son who is on the spectrum. Although he is high functioning, he can be very aggressive and violent and now my 2 1/2 year old son is starting to do the same behaviors. The days are extremely rough and can be very lonely. We are not alone and I wanted to recommend a few books that have helped me. One is called The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis. It is a great book that focuses on connecting with our kids. It is a book written for families who adopt a child whose have sensory struggles, but the issues discussed can be very applicable to put situations. The other two books are called Autism's Hidden Blessings and The Explosive Child. Hope that helps. We are not alone and God Bless all of you as you daily fight in the trenches for your children.

  • Hi,I have a autism 3yr old he is very active he also fights screams throw tantrums I tries to find ways on how to calm him at times I loves my son thru it all I have a disabled problem but I do all I can fa my son I ask for help n I do need more help on learning other things bout autism CUZ I want him to be able to continue to enjoy life I always care bout his feelings n how ppl will treat him I want him to be safe I always kno when he needs attention CUZ I'm a real mother n I have patients n I learn more bout patients n how to be calm in talking to him when he upset or crying I'm more happy he is getting help in school he is a very special lil boy I'm proud to be his mother always....

  • My son at almost 3 is ASD. I have been dealing with his violent tantrums since he regressed his speech at 15 months. I love him but dread taking him to the store because of the attacking its embarrassing still waiting on the behavior specialist to help i have to restrain him to keep him from hurting me, I love my son and he does have a sweet side i just dont know what to do about the attacks. His bio father wont spend more than an hour and half with him and i know alot of his anger comes from the absence he feels from that. Is there any other help for this? I dont know what will happen in another 3 years if i cant get his behavior corrected. feeling lost at times and i have worked with an OT, speech and SST therapists and nothing seems to stop or calm him much. I am willing to try books or any other treatment that anybody else has done and worked. Thank you

  • I need some advice bad my little brother is 12 and when he was a baby he lined his cars up I have been looking up autsim for a while n I don't no what to do he doesn't like 2 b touched . he is a very picly eater n he don't Like change n there is a few more things that I am worried about but I have been talking my dad about it and he just said he don't have it but i just wanna help my brother please help

  • I'm almost 30 just had a newborn baby boy which I am so blessed I love my life more than ever now that he exists but I have the father of my son I love adore and care for the thing is he has a daughter which I have been in relationships with other children the one difference about his child is that she was diagnosed with DiGeorge syndrome which I have noticed it has some similarities to autism but I may be mistaken I just don't know how to deal with this and if should stick around to find out I feel horrible feeling this way but I need to do what's best for my boy so I need advise what would y'all do in my case run or stay and deal with a step daughter that her own mother abandoned.

  • Dear Jeff, Go for it! Push, push, push! He's a teenager and autism or not, teenage boys in middle school get lazy. The more you push, check up on him online and with his teachers about assignments that you can (or that you can stand to!) the better. The fact that he does well in some subjects at grade level or near it is fantastic. Small steps, or single steps for undesirables for chores etc., a checklist before electronics is worth a shot! Sami, Check out the book: The Science of Making Friends, - Helping Socially Challenged Teens and Young Adults It's a really GREAT!! book. It comes with an intro DVD that even in the throws of feeling depressed you will love and be able to process. The book goes into detail that you can work through with your son and any teachers that you can get on board. Another good one is Teaching Social Skills to People with Autism. Your school would do well to implement the PEERS curriculum. Much love to all. :) Remember, if you have a child with autism, you are in a very special group in the world. There are the highest incidences of depression for parents of children who have autism that any other disability. Know that of all the parents out there, you are the strongest of all for every minute of every day that you get through. Here's to the moments of joy and laughter that we can squeeze into every and any day.

  • I need help bad my son likes to hit pull hair and pinch and bite I'm lost at what to do to get him to stop. He only does this when he wants what he cant have. And i cant get the help i need in my home town because no one understands what I'm going threw ugh.

  • Seriously, no way.. I need more that common sense. If any one has something that actually works to calm a melt down please share with me.. I'm totally diggen the visual thing it totally does work for their rules and schdual.. I mean even for anyone can look at a pix and know what its saying.. ' a picture can tell a 1000 words' right..

  • Hi everybody, my son has just turned 4 and is awaiting a diagnosis, I am a single mum my old child. I am finding it very difficult to cope with hi tantrums, meltdowns and crying I can't stand him crying, I need help! I am so depressed and feel like giving him to his father I love him dearly and somedays he is a funny loving caring boy. What books or sites would other parents with their child in the spectrum recommend. Thanks

  • Our child just got diagnosed with mild autism. When she does something wrong, m8sbehaves, she now immediately says, \

  • I have a 21 year old brother and I am just so done with it.I believe he has one of the worst autisms to get and its very hard for me to stay in the same house as him.Some days he will be fine.Of course constant ramblings and short tantrums occur but I dont see a problem thats bring my attention to.Other days I am walking through hell as he goes completely nuts.My brother recently went to the mall all by himself and with his own birthday money,bought a bat.When he came home with it,I could just smell fear and hopelessness coming closer.Turns out I was right.My brother has developed a skill called intimidation and for him it works so well.He never swings the bat.At least not at me or my other family.But whenever he feels he isnt getting his way or someone is bothering him,he picks up the bat and just holds it.Then my mom tells me and my sister to just dont look at him and dont talk to him at all.I'm at the point where I want him to just go live independently or I move with my older sister 3 states away.I dont want my mom or my younger sister to constantly be afraid or hurt by him with his words or sudden meltdowns.My whole family goes through enough as it is and with my brother constantly making it worse,I just cant.I think this experience is making it worse for me as well mentally.Throughout the day I just think about how wonderful it would be for him to move away and I am finally out of hell.I think its making me delusional.Anyway thanks for the time -A 13 year old teen

  • I have a 9 year old Autistic son, who has severe behaviors, he is non verbal and becoming very very aggressive. We tried ABA, diet, Homepathy, HBOT.... but he has not improved. We go to the doctors (Specialist) frequently, they are giving the routine medicines(Resperdal.), which does not control his anger, aggressive behaviors. He is becoming stronger by the day, all we want is for him to sit for 30 min. Whole day he walks around crying,screaming damaging something (Cups, glass, electrionics,windows....). Is there anything we can do?. I don't know how hell looks like but the torture we are experiencing every day, real hell if exits may be a better place than what we are experiencing now.

  • This past April, our 17 year old high-functioning autistic son became aggressive and the incidents were prolonged and scary to us as parents. After repeated occurrences, we sought help from a pediatric psychiatrist. He advised us to put our son on Abilify and assured us that these aggressive incidents were \

  • Following Linda on the 1-4-15 post. She described my situation. I am absolutely exhausted and need answers

  • My son has autism. He gets frustrated and throw tantrum. I keep a close eyes on him to see what he wants. Sometime is very stressful not knowing if I am doing the right thing for him. As a mom I want my son to be happy and not sad. He loves playing in the park and playing with other children. He loves playing with his toys cars and airplanes and love watching Nick Jr. My Sunday early intervention program and he started school when he was 3 years old he go to a special school that helps him a lot. When we go out for example like to a train station and he sits down and he does this thing with hands making like a letter and airplane and people look at him like he is weird and it makes me mad when people look at him like that. He takes medication for his behavior. I love my son so much and that will never change between the love and bond I have for him. People with autism kids understand those people that don't have kids with autism don't understand they look at them in a different ways. Kids with autism should not be treated differently they should be treated the same way like any other kids they are normal and not weird it pisses me off when people look at your son in a different certain ways. I am a great mother and I know what my son wants and needs.

  • R u kidding me? Y do parents of autistic kids thnk they need to coddle and give into the outrageous demands of their autistic kids and never discipline them either? My ex gf has an autistic 5 year old boy. He bites her, himself, teachers. He hits. He eats a steady diet of total garbage food. He has horrible tantrums. He sleeps maybe 2 hours per night. The rest of the night is spent going between bouts of laughing and screaming, alternating every 10 minutes. He has destroyed her house. He destroyed my house. Yet all i ever see are his therapists, teachers, and parents going \

  • Interesting comments. I have three boys with autism 11 yrs and 7 yr twins. I am a single mom of four terrific kids....reading the posts made me realize that it is probably harder to parent one special needs child, instead of 3, I have a majority. G-d only gives you what you can handle. This is the first post I have had the time to write in 13 years...I have gained 5 broken bones knee and ankle surgery while keeping my boys safe during their public meltdowns...I make adjustments like taking my glasses off during the meltdowns so I cant see onlookers expressions....dont loose your sense of humor and talk to a local advocate when overwhelmed.

  • Sorry to be narky here but is djones for real! Don't get me wrong I agree that setting boundaries and rules to children with SEN is important for social and school settings as if I gave in to my son every time he hit, bit or kicked me he would certainly do it on a whole different level. Going to shops, family meals etc is just pure torture hence we do it hardly ever for our own sanity as well as his but no child should EVER feel afraid of their \

  • Hello. My son isn't even three yet but in August was diagnosed with autism. Thankfully I am a stay at home mom. He didn't say really any words until recently, I work with him whenever he is willing and ready for it. He hardly looked at me or his father until about a year ago. He tends to be violent at times but I think with his age he hasn't quite experienced enough to actually have severe meltdowns. The only time he really does is in public at stores and such. I just wanted to say that all of us with children with special needs are pretty special ourselves. Despite how hard it may get we still work hard and try the best for our children. Keep up the beautiful work guys.

  • I am in middle school and I work with the special needs cjildren in my school. I fing it to be a blessing because they are amazing. Although i did suffer a month of back pain from one child that hit my back i still love it. I also have a special needs brother although he isn't autistic he is aggressive. I have learned a lot over the past two years and on thing I want everyone to know is that there is a fine line between coddling and understanding. Example I don't hold a grudge against the kids who hurt me but i do get onto them. Thank you all

  • I have a 8 year old with autism and a 6 year old and a 5 year old also have a 28 year old each one is different , but different things have seemed to help like lotions little bottles help with tantrums , brushing seems to help with tantrums and some times if I can get to them before a total melt down water seems to help a warm shower or bath , ear plugs for loud places , a certain cloth texture to keep on wrist always holding my hand but for me the hard part is when they scream I've tried earplugs for myself they get worse if I wear them or if I'm talking on the phone it seems they really don't want me too . I'm not sure what to do about this but I started a chart thinking maybe this will help 3 of them are verbal and the 4 is not so verbal so sometimes it's hard pictures to describe what they want seems to help but I don't have pics of everything so some days are great some days not so much but I never exclude them and still do family vacations sometimes it takes longer but hey they also deserve to explore live and learn and the way I feel if someone don't like my kids then don't look or don't visit because it isn't their fault and I'm ok with it even though I am overwhelmed sometimes , you have to remember that their brains work different but they still want what everyone else has , love , understanding , fun , and struck limits , I give my kids a lot of limits when it comes to how they treat others and when we are out and about , but I also live way in the woods , the calming effect of fans , trees , wind and birds is great but I have 1 that don't like to flush the toilet and we know it's ok , one that don't like dogs barking and one that don't like women for some reason , I think it has to do with his bio mom yes they are adopted one from birth and the others were older but they are my babies and I love them and will figure this out one way or another .

  • First of all, I'd like to express that, each and every one of you are doing what is probably the best you can with your situation. As a teacher of many children having Autism, I admire you all. Please remember to reach out to your special Ed team at school. They will have many ideas to share, and outside resources as well, such as respite care. As a teacher, I make sure that communication with the parent is consistent, and develop behavior plans that extend from school to home, and vice versa. Visual routines and expectations can be used all day to map out the day ahead, and to review behavior expectations. Your teacher can write a daily social story for any situation that you are needing help with. I work very hard at extinguishing behaviors such as biting, etc. Aggressive behaviors can improve with consistency even though it sometimes is a very hard road to stay on. No one wants a child to someday be a 50 year old who hits someone on a bus because they're sitting in 'their seat'. People with disabilities are not immune to being arrested and spending jail time. Always look at the picture down the road. I can't express this enough. Lastly I want to reach out to 'Fed Up' the 13 year old girl. Sweetheart, I'm with you. Your parents need to either throw the bat away, or find an alternative place for your brother to live. He is keeping you all captive, and it is being allowed. It is your very young life that needs safe keeping. Please keep it safe if no one else does. The best to you!

  • My 13 yr old brother has autism. We grew up without our parents (working abroad) so it's pretty obvious that I'm the one responsible for him. It was summer 2014 when he started to act aggressively and became easily irritated by things he wanted to do (but can't). We live with only our grandfather, aunt and a 10 yr old cousin and no one can handle his meltdown and tantrums anymore. He destroys almost every thing in our house. He runs outside and enter other people's home, break things, and the scariest thing is he's violent. Our grandfather, due to old age, can barely stop him. I don't know what to do anymore. I'm only 16 but I want to do something to stop this. Everyone at home are already hurt.

  • My step daughter of 5 has autism just been told few month ago but last 2 months she has melt downs every night she gets everything we do stuff with her and is hard for my girl friend she has to deal with it alone when I am away offshore then when I am back it is a strain on us with the melt downs

  • My daughter was diagnosed at 2 1/2 with high functioning autism. She's really a sweetheart and you can follow some directions. She loves, reading, coloring, music and dancing. She can even count to 10 on her own. Little by little she's showing more improvement on her own( she hasn't started therapy yet). She's very open with others and kids her age she just doesn't know how to properly interact yet. I do have her own a schedule just to put some normalcy into her life. She's also a little speedy Gonzales as well haha. I've been chasing after her since she learned how to run. I feel like she looks at the bigger picture and not just the picture. Yeah she has her bad day, but usually it's because she's really tired or she transitioned from another environment ( father and I live separately). I wouldn't trade my lovable little princess for anything in this world. She wakes up with a smile on her face and that's how she goes to sleep. Hopefully with therapy she'll communicate more with words and less with gestures/actions, but I have hope for the better.

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