Behavioral Problems in Autistic Children


Many parents of children with autism find the disorder has a negative impact on their child’s behavior. While this communication disorder is not directly related to behavior, the challenges inherent in autism can also make it more difficult for the child to behave properly and make him more prone to outburst and other undesirable behavioral incidents. By understanding the behavioral problems that often accompany autism, you can help your autistic child manage his behavior.


Because autistic children commonly struggle with emotional control and communicating their desires, tantrum behavior is quite common, reports Sevier County Special Education in Sevierville, Tenn. While all children exhibit tantrum behavior occasionally, tantrums in children who suffer from autism are often more severe, and the children are frequently more difficult to calm. When an autistic child is in the midst of a tantrum, he may resist contact and rebel against attempts to be soothed. Often, autistic children simply need to move through their tantrums and self-soothe, something that can be difficult for parents or caregivers to allow them to do.

Problems with Preoccupations

Many autistic children develop preoccupations with certain objects. While these preoccupations in and of themselves are not necessarily a problem, they can lead to behavioral challenges, as children may not want to complete classwork or do chores if doing these things pulls them away from their preoccupations. For example, an autistic child who loves trains may rebel against attempts to get him to do math work, as this work pulls his attention away from the trains. Parents and teachers can often remedy this by trying to include the fixation in lessons, such as providing the child with math problems that include trains to increase his motivation to do the requisite math work.

Frequent Frustration

In many cases, autistic children may also be perfectionists. Children that have perfectionism paired with their autism may be quick to become frustrated and struggle to deal with their emotions if things do not work out perfectly. They may, for example, want to redo papers when they feel that their handwriting wasn’t ideal. This frustration can turn in to aggression, particularly when the child is not allowed to correct the work.

Forced Interaction Explosions

Because autism affects a child’s ability to interact with others, most autistic children shy away from social interaction. When these children are forced to communicate, they can have virulent reactions. Depending upon the degree to which the child attempts to avoid social interactions, this reaction to forced communication can range from simple unhappiness to physical aggression. To avoid this, teachers and parents should be sensitive to the child’s hesitancy to communicate and allow for it. Give the child the option to work alone, or warm him up to forced social interaction whenever possible.


While parents and teachers need to understand that some behaviors are common of autistic children, they shouldn’t allow the negative behaviors simply because the child is autistic. If parents and caregivers allow autism to be an excuse for negative behaviors, they risk creating a child with learned helplessness. When a child suffers from learned helplessness, he feels that he cannot do things, such as behave, and stops trying to do so. If you create a child with learned helplessness, you will likely experience even more behavioral challenges.



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