A Comprehensive Guide On How To Manage Anger And Stress In Students With Autism

31st March 2023

Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects communication, social interaction, and behavior. Students with autism may have difficulty expressing their emotions, including anger, which can lead to challenging behaviors. Therefore, teachers and parents need to teach anger management skills to students with autism. But before that let us first understand some of the common traits that autistic children might have.

Some Common Challenges Faced By Children With Autism

Symptoms of Autism

Take a look at some of the most common issues faced by students with autism:

  • Social Interaction

    They may have difficulty making eye contact, responding appropriately to social cues, initiating and maintaining conversations, and understanding social norms. Autistic children may also struggle with developing friendships and may prefer to play alone.
  • Communication

    They may have delayed language development, difficulty understanding or using nonverbal communication, and may struggle with figurative language or sarcasm. Some autistic children may also tend to repeat words or phrases (echolalia) or have a restricted and repetitive use of language.
  • Sensory Processing

    Many autistic children have difficulty processing sensory information. They may be oversensitive or undersensitive to certain stimuli such as sounds, textures, smells, and visual information. This can lead to sensory overload, which can cause distress and even physical pain.
  • Emotional Regulation

    Autistic children may have difficulty regulating their emotions. They may experience intense emotions such as anxiety or anger and may have difficulty expressing these emotions appropriately. This can lead to meltdowns or tantrums, which can be distressing for both the child and those around them.
  • Transitions

    They may have difficulty transitioning from one activity to another, from home to school, or from one location to another. This can cause anxiety and may lead to challenging behavior. They may have difficulty adapting to changes in routines or unexpected events. This can cause anxiety and may lead to challenging behavior.

7 Ways By Which You Can Help Them Deal With Anger

Causes of Anger in High-Functioning Autistic Children

Here are some techniques to deal with anger issues of autistic children in a classroom:

  1. Identify Triggers

    The first step in managing anger is to identify the triggers that lead to it. Students with autism may have difficulty recognizing and articulating their emotions, so it is important to teach them to identify the events or situations that make them feel angry.

    For example, a student may become upset when there is a change in their routine or when they are asked to do something they do not want to do. Once the trigger is identified, teachers and parents can work with the student to find ways to manage their emotions.

  2. Teach Coping Strategies

    Once the student has identified their triggers, it is important to teach them coping strategies to manage their anger. These strategies should be individualized based on the student's needs and preferences.

    Some effective coping strategies for students with autism include deep breathing, counting to 10, taking a break, and using a sensory tool such as a stress ball or fidget toy. Teachers and parents should work with the student to determine which coping strategies work best for them and encourage them to use these strategies when they feel angry.

  3. Use Visual Aids

    Students with autism often have a strong visual memory, so using visual aids can help teach anger management skills. Teachers and parents can create visual schedules or cue cards that remind the student of their coping strategies or provide them with a visual representation of their emotions.

    For example, a cue card with a picture of a stop sign can remind the student to take a break when they feel angry.

  4. Practice Social Skills

    Students with autism often have difficulty with social interaction, which can lead to frustration and anger. Teaching social skills such as turn-taking, sharing, and compromising can help the student to better understand and manage their emotions.

    Role-playing activities can help practice these social skills in a safe and supportive environment.

  5. Use Positive Reinforcement

    Positive reinforcement is an effective way to encourage desired behavior in students with autism. When the student demonstrates appropriate anger management skills, teachers and parents should praise and reward them.

    Rewards can be as simple as verbal praise, stickers, or preferred activity. Positive reinforcement can help the student to feel more confident and motivated to continue using their coping strategies.

  6. Develop a Safety Plan

    In some cases, students with autism may become physically aggressive when they feel angry. It is important to develop a safety plan in collaboration with the student, their parents, and school staff to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

    The safety plan should include clear guidelines for de-escalating the situation and contacting emergency services if necessary.

  7. Provide a Safe Space

    Students with autism may benefit from having a designated safe space where they can go when they feel overwhelmed or upset. This space should be quiet, calm, and free from distractions.

    Teachers and parents can work with the student to create a safe space that meets their individual needs and preferences.

Create A Happy Child

Helping autistic children manage anger is no easy feat. Thus, to help you out we have curated a list of strategies that might make your job easier. Alternatively, you can also pursue online courses on Autism to understand other behavioural challenges in students with autism and guide them through exercises and activities to improve their future. Give these anxious children something to focus on other that stress and anxiety and build a happy individual.

Written By: Sonal Agrawal      

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